Yesterday marked the 20th World AIDS Day, and although the event was marked on a small scale in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, it was nevertheless observed in a country where such subjects as sexual health and alternative sub-cultures are considered somewhat taboo. Pink Armenia posted the schedule for the day which also included a concert by three local bands.
December 1st, at 4pm we will gather near the Vardan Mamikonyan statue and start our march till Republic Square, and after all will go to Pushkin street, Avangard folk-club (Pushkin 3a) to start the main event at 5pm, which includes punk underground rock concert, presentations, films and live shows. During the event we'll distribute different information materials on HIV issues and condoms.
Perhaps the most popular and ground-breaking Armenian LGBT blog, Unzipped: Gay Armenia summed up the day as well as posting a retrospective on the year since the last World AIDS Day as it pertained to HIV/AIDS in Armenia.
Meanwhile, Armenia: Higher Education & Sciences provides a background to the extent of known HIV infection in the country and comments on a media report casting doubts over a drug developed locally to combat the symptoms of the disease.
The first HIV infection in Armenia was reported in 1988. Since then 150 people have perished according to Armenia’s AIDS Prevention Centre; 128 of them were men and 22 were women. According to the same report, 649 people are currently HIV+. UNAIDS, however, puts the total number at 2,400, of which 610 are women. There are no estimates of the number of Armenian AIDS/HIV+s who have left the country in search of easier, cheaper and more confidential access to treatment.
The two most common transmission causes are unprotected/high risk heterosexual intercourse (49 percent) and sharing infected needles by intravenous drug users (44 percent). Other causes such as unsafe homosexual intercourse and mother-to-child (perinatal) transmission constitute the remaining 7 percent.
2008 is also the 10th anniversary of Armenicum, the so-called wonder drug. For years people have been told about the wonders of this Armenian formula with curative powers over the HIV virus.
The article says that what most Armenians probably do not know is that their tax money is paying for Armenicum, which is more than triple the cost of the world’s only proven treatment for HIV, antiretroviral (ARV) drugs. They probably also are not aware that in a few months Armenicum may be the only choice available in Armenia for future HIV-infected patients. […]
Photos: © Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2008, licensed under Creative Commons