Candlelight Memorial Campaign for AIDS Awareness in Armenia
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About 0.2 per cent of the total population aged 15-49 of Armenia is HIV positive. Migrants are a highly vulnerable group, with the majority (57 per cent) of the cases between 2011 and 2015 becoming infected while abroad. When one adds their spouses and partners that become infected, the total percentage of HIV cases are associated with migration reaches 70 per cent. Due to legal, stigmatic and discriminatory barriers, vulnerable populations - including outbound labour migrants - have limited access in countires of destination to timely testing and treatment.
On May 20, IOM and UNAIDS supported free and anonymous HIV-testing in the capital city, Yerevan. The event was created by the Ministry of Health’s National Center for AIDS Prevention, in cooperation with the NGO Armenian Network of Positive People to raise awareness on early testing for HIV, and to change the stereotypes and public perceptions associated with it.
All visitors were given the opportunity to have a quick, free and anonymous test for HIV and for viral hepatitis B and C. The participants found out the results within 15-20 minutes. The counseling and tests were carried out by specialists from the National Centre of AIDS Prevention inside two mobile clinics donated by the Russian Federation.
The event was also attended by the Minister of Health of the Republic of Armenia, Arsen Torosyan, who consulted and was tested in the mobile clinic, thereby encouraging others to receive testing.
During the event, 386 people were tested and were informed of their status.
A special stand was set up where red ribbons were placed by everyone who wished to join the fight against HIV/AIDS. Passers-by were provided with information materials. At the end of the event, candles were lit to commemorate those who have died as a result of AIDS.
The latest national report on health statistics show that in 2017 the estimated number of people living with HIV in Armenia is about 3,400.