- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
June 18, 2004

Battlefront: UN Caucasus AIDS prevention center set up in Yerevan

The United Nations has chosen Armenia as host for its UNAIDS regional joint project center for fighting AIDS. The Yerevan office, set up this spring, will coordinate a Caucasus-wide program.

“Establishment of this regional center is very important considering conditions throughout the world today of record high HIV/AIDS, especially in cases where there is a great migration flow in the whole CIS territory,” says the press secretary of the Republican AIDS Prevention Center Susanna Tokmajyan.

Renate Ehmer

Establishment of the center is the result of negotiations between UNAIDS Intercountry Coordinator for the Southern Caucasus Renate Ehmer and the government of Armenia.

“We’ve discussed this issue in Geneva for a long time. Finally, last year it was decided that the center will be acting in Yerevan. The Armenian Government was very active regarding this issue. They put AIDS prevention problems on their agenda,” says Ehmer.

She also pointed out that today there are 271 HIV infected registered in Armenia and 500 in Georgia. Health care workers, however, say the number is 10 times that. (Ehmer had no information on Azerbaijan.)

“The picture (in Azerbaijan) is not visible at all,” Ehmer says. “They’re taking the first steps on HIV/AIDS prevention issues. They don’t even have the necessary mechanism to register the patients and it’s impossible to find out the number of the infected.”

The UNAIDS Intercountry Coordinator is planning to visit Azerbaijan during the coming months to do researches. Risk groups will be examined and the approximate number of the carriers will be decided.

The Armenian government had approved a program on HIV/AIDS prevention. The Global Fund for AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis assists in carrying out this program.

According to Ehmer, during the next five years the Global Fund will provide Armenia $7.2 million. The sum will be transferred in several stages. One million has been allotted this year.

Part of the Fund’s money will be spent on medicines which will be bought according to the instructions of the World Health Organization. Ehmer also pointed out that some people get treatment in Armenia by using Armenicum.

“But as far as I know Armenicum is not accepted internationally and in order to get international acknowledgement we have to do treatment with it outside Armenia, as well,” she says.

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