PRESS RELEASE

UN Department of Public Information, Yerevan Office
14 K.Liebknekht, Yerevan 375010, Armenia
Contact: Armine Halajyan, UN DPI Information Assistant
Tel.: (374 1) 560 212
Fax/Tel.: (374 1) 561 406
http://www.undpi.am

WORLD AIDS DAY IN ARMENIA

Although the name of Armenia has not been mentioned in the recently launched
AIDS Epidemic Update, 2004 but Armenia falls in the geographical region
where rapid growth of the epidemic has been registered. According to this
Report, 2004 - the number of people living with HIV in Eastern Europe and
Central Asia has risen dramatically in just a few years-reaching an
estimated 1.4 million [920 000-2.1 million] at the end of 2004. This is an
increase of more than nine-fold in less than ten years. And most of the
epidemics in this region are still in their early stages-which means that
timely, effective interventions can halt and reverse them.

According to the UNDP report Reversing the Epidemic, Facts and Policy
Options, 2004, only a few years ago it was hoped that Central and Eastern
Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) would avoid the
devastation of AIDS. For at least some countries in this region, these hopes
are set to fail.

HIV has a young face in Armenia. Almost 80 percent of people living with HIV
are from 20-39 years old. In 2001 the first cases of HIV/AIDS among children
were registered.

As of October 2004 296 cases of HIV/AIDS were reported out of which 217
people (77.5%) are male, 63 women (22.5%) and 4 children. However, according
to the National HIV/AIDS Center despite these official figures, other
HIV/AIDS assessments indicate that the real number of people living with
HIV/AIDS in Armenia is closer to 2,800 - 3,000.

Speaking about the mode of transmission - injecting drug use is on the rise
in this part of the world, Armenia included. Before 1999, transmission in
Armenia via sexual contacts exceeded transmission through injecting drug
usage with a ratio of 41:22. However, from 1999 to mid 2004, the ratio
became 58:113. Almost half of the cases of the reported infections now are
of this mode and among young people (52.5%), all of whom are men, the
majority of whom have probably been infected with HIV while temporarily
living in the Russian Federation and the Ukraine. In addition, the majority
of all the male HIV carriers (66.5%) are individuals who practice injecting
drug usage, whereas the main transmission mode for women is heterosexual
contacts (94.4%). And the overall registered cases transmitted by
heterosexual transmission makes 38.9%.

>From the beginning of the epidemic 42 cases of death from HIV/AIDS have been
registered in Armenia, 6 of them in 2003 and 8 in 2004.

The maximum number of HIV carriers was reported in Yerevan(the capital): 137
cases, constitute almost half of all registered cases. Lori Marz (in the
north of the country) is placed second, where the HIV prevalence rate is 8%.

As a response to the situation in the country a Sentinel Epidemiological
Surveillance and Rapid Assessment was conducted in 2000, HIV/AIDS
Situational Analysis and Response Analysis were prepared, on the bases of
which a National Programme on HIV/AIDS Prevention was approved by the
Government in 2002.

Besides, the Theme Group in Armenia comprising of the Heads of UN Agencies
and a Government Representative supports the National Programme carrying out
a variety of activities to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS among vulnerable
groups and the general population such as advocate and support one
coordination mechanism in the country, increase monitoring and evaluation
capacities and strengthen the potential of the Government, Parliament and
civil society to respond to the challenge of HIV/AIDS.

The press conference devoted to the World AIDS Day was held on 1 December
2004 in UN Conference Hall. World Health Organization has initiated to
organize the World AIDS Day on 1 December 1988. On this day leaders of many
countries all over the world delivered their speeches containing the special
slogans on the radio and TV.

Starting from that day, every year the whole world commemorates 1 December
as a World AIDS Day to draw attention of the wide sectors of population to
the problem of HIV/AIDS, to involve new organizations, groups and
individuals in the implementation of preventive activities. This day is
commemorated by different slogans every year marking crucial issues. The
World AIDS Campaign slogan of this year is "Women, Girls and HIV/AIDS".

The press conference was opened by Mr. V.Tkatchuk, UN DPI Representative. It
was attended by Mr. Lars Olof Kallings, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary
General on HIV/AIDS for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Mr. N.Davidyan,
Minister of Health of the Republic of Armenia, Ms. L.Grande, UN Resident
Coordinator, UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. R.Ehmer, UNAIDS InterCountry
coordinator for Southern Caucasus, Dr. S.Grigoryan, Director of the National
Centre for AIDS Prevention.

Mr. Lars Olof Kallings, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General on
HIV/AIDS for Eastern Europe and the Central Asia has met with government
officials and people living with HIV during his visit. Dr. S.Grigoryan,
Director of the National Centre for AIDS Prevention presented
epidemiological situation on HIV/AIDS in the world, region and Armenia.

The National Programme on HIV/AIDS Prevention was approved by the Decision N
316 of 1 April 2002 of the Government of the Republic of Armenia. Starting
from the year of 2003 the National Programme on HIV/AIDS Prevention has been
implemented with the support of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis
and Malaria. Ms. R.Ehmer, UNAIDS InterCountry coordinator for Southern
Caucasus mentioned that the Government had taken several measures to prevent
the further spread of the epidemic which are supported also by UN Agencies
and other international organizations.