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 December 6, 2002 

AIDS Awareness Day: Specialists call on lawmakers for education campaign

At the beginning of last year, when a child was infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) from donated blood and died in a short period of time, for the first time Armenian society realized that the real danger of HIV/AIDS is not far away and that the number of virus carriers is not small at all.

According to estimates through last year there were up to 2,200 HIV carriers in the republic. However specialists are sure the real number exceeds official figures.

"In Armenia infection is mainly transmitted as a result of drug usage by means of injections and by unsafe sexual relations," says director of the Ministry of Healthcare's Republican Center of AIDS Prevention Samvel Grigoryan. "From year to year the number of infected people is increasing. In 2002 the highest index of infected people was reported in Armenia comparing to other years."

Events during last weekend's International AIDS Awareness Day were reminders that Armenia has joined the world's countries who cannot escape the disease's influence.

"In our case it's very wrong to conduct an 'ostrich' policy," says head of the National Assembly's Permanent Council on Nature Protection and Healthcare Gagik Tadevosyan, "the reality shows that the disease's rates are increasing more and more here. No doubt it's a pity, but such situation is a result of mass external works, migration as well as lack of information and the imperfection of the legal frame work, that we are going to improve next year."

Tadevosyan says that a special commission created last year will soon present a proposal to the National Assembly that will lead to solutions left unsolved by an incomplete law adopted in 1997 to address the AIDS problem.

"There are a lot of flaws to fix in this field," says Tadevosyan, "and the first step taken will be to pay greater attention to this problem. That is why we have presented a tenet in our portfolio of suggestions, according to which we demand 55 million drams (about $100,000) to be allotted in a special line of the budget for preventing HIV and AIDS. No doubt after the adopting of the suggestion by the government the international companies, seeing our approach to this question, will also present financial aid which will help to find solution to many problems."

Specialists say the money would be spent on a comprehensive project for the prevention of HIV and AIDS.

"Such measures will be very important not only for the capital but for the region as well," says Roma Sargsyan, MD. "I am from Syunik region and in our region as well as in the others this illness has become a problem long ago due to the migrating workers. Thanks to the project the patients will have a chance to get better support and the others will gain knowledge and will learn how to avoid such problems."

According to Tadevosyan a wide-spread educational program will be part of the project, including sex education classes beginning in the ninth form.

"Systems will be created, laboratories with preventive aims, that will guard the situation in the republic," he says. "In short, all that is necessary for avoiding the illness in all the possible ways, having healthy children, future and lifestyle."


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