Armenia: HIV/AIDS Patients Struggle with Rampant Discrimination

Gayane Abrahamyan
Original Article: 

If you are an HIV/AIDS patient looking to visit a dentist, attend school or have your hair cut in the South Caucasus country of Armenia, you might well find that your options are limited.

Despite years of public-awareness campaigns, discrimination against Armenians with either Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is widespread, according to advocates and infected individuals interviewed by Yet, in this small, tightly knit society, few victims are willing to speak out.

Figures for the number of Armenians suffering from HIV or AIDS vary widely. The state-run Republican Center for AIDS Control and Prevention reports 1,993 registered cases of HIV from 1988 to present. The Center itself puts the estimated number still higher – roughly 4,000 HIV-positive individuals. Both numbers are far less than a percentage point of Armenia’s 2013 population of 2.97 million people.

According to UNAIDS, Armenia has the lowest HIV/AIDS rate in the region. With proper and timely treatment, HIV does not necessarily progress to AIDS, the final stage of the disease. But in a country long concerned by its dwindling population, both conditions, potentially fatal, prompt many to espouse complete segregation of infected individuals.

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