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Post-Soviet Countries, Including Armenia, Show Rise in HIV/AIDS Cases

November 8, 2013

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Armenia Now recently reported that HIV incidence was increasing in the former Soviet Union countries of Armenia, Ukraine, and Russia. Armenia has registered more than 222 HIV diagnoses in 2013 alone, with a total of 1,541 HIV diagnoses since 1988. Experts estimated that 70 percent of HIV-infected Armenians were men and 30 percent were women. Ashot Gevorgyan, International HIV/AIDS Alliance (IHAA) national program officer for Armenia, attributed 58 percent of HIV transmission to heterosexual intercourse, 32 percent to drug use, and 2.1 percent to man-to-man sex. Many HIV infections in Armenia remained undiagnosed.

Ukraine's IHAA Projects Director Lesya Khmel stated that incidence was particularly high among migrant workers and women of reproductive age, especially among prostitutes. Khmel attributed the region's rising incidence to ineffective state HIV prevention programming and lack of coordination among countries in the region. As major international donors shifted HIV funding to African nations, Khmel feared that Russia, Ukraine, and Armenia would lack national funding to address HIV/AIDS. Khmel reported Ukraine's HIV incidence had decreased by 2 percent in 2012, primarily because of fewer HIV diagnoses among people using syringes for drug abuse.

Armenia planned to participate in European HIV testing week, November 22-29, to increase public awareness of HIV/AIDS. Gevorgyan advocated increased availability of free rapid HIV tests in Armenia's capital Yerevan and outlying provinces. Armenians typically had to go to a clinic or laboratory for HIV testing and then wait a week for test results.

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