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 July 18 , 2003 

Prevention and Treatment: International agency joins Armenia's fight against AIDS

Global Fund, an international organization created last year, has awarded a $3.2 million grant to Armenia toward prevention of AIDS. (The full name is Global Fund Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, but the grant to Armenia is specifically for AIDS.)

If the project succeeds after the first two years, the Fund will allocate another $4 million to continue another three years.

Within the framework of the project special laboratories will be prepared for voluntary blood tests of residents of all regions of Armenia. New labs will also be created for examination and treatment of existing HIV/AIDS patients.

Prevention and education programs will be initiated among young people and high-risk groups (drug addicts, prostitutes and prisoners).

Officials met to sign documents awarding a grant to be used in AIDS prevention.

According to Samvel Grigoryan, director of the National AIDS Prevention Center, HIV patients in Armenia have no access to antivirus treatment except Armenicum, the experimental drug in development for the past five years by Armenian scientists.

"Many medicines used throughout the world for treatment of HIV haven't been officially registered in Armenia and that's the reason why they are not available for patients," Grigoryan says.

The Ministry of Healthcare is working to have such medicines registered. Part of the grant money, Grigoryan says, will be spent to purchase such drugs from abroad for use by Armenian patients.

Worldwide last year three million people died of AIDS. About five million new cases were reported, bringing the total HIV/AIDS sufferers to 42 million. About 50 AIDS related deaths will occur while you read the stories on this web site.

Until recently Armenia has been spared severe spread of the disease. Today there are 234 registered HIV carriers in the republic. The Prevention Center calculates that the unofficial number is about 2,500. So far, 29 deaths from AIDS have been reported in Armenia.

Experts predict, however, that Armenia is a vulnerable target. Growth in the outbreak of AIDS/HIV in Russia rivals sub-Saharan Africa. And, as Russia is the Number One destination of Armenian emigration and return, specialists fear that it is only a matter of time until Armenia inherits Russia's problems.

Armenia's Global Fund grant will be coordinated by a commission comprised by state, public and international organizations. "World Vision Armenia" has been chosen as the main recipient.

"Starting November we will be witnessing activities concerning different strata of the society," says national director of the World Vision Armenia organization David Thomson. He adds that some existing patients should start to get help within this year.

"This is a five-year project and its effects and influence will be noticed with time."

Global Fund supports 150 programs in 93 countries, giving a total of $1.5 billion in aid.

"Different countries are in different situations concerning this problem. Our goal is to fix this problem in Armenia with this small sum," said Valery E. Chernyavskiy, Global Fund portfolio manager.

Announcing the grant Chernyavskiy said: "It's hard to be happy that the project is going to be started because it is sad there is such a need in Armenia. The task of Armenia is to spend this amount as effectively as it is possible."


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  Photo of the week
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