CIS countries face fastest rates of HIV infection in world, UNDP

Armen Press
July 7 2004


YEREVAN, JULY 7, ARMENPRESS: Today in the UN House in Yerevan the
United Nations Development Program (UNDP) launched the “Reversing the
Epidemic: Facts and Policy Options” 2004 HIV/AIDS Report for Eastern
Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Vladimir
Davidyants, Chief State Sanitary Doctor of Armenia, Ms. Lise Grande,
UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Samvel
Grigoryan, Head of the Republican AIDS Prevention Centre and
representatives of international and local organizations participated
in the event.
The Report presents the first comprehensive outline of the
HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 28 countries of East and South-Eastern
Europe, the Baltics and the CIS. The UN estimates that 1.8 million
people in the region have HIV and that 280,000 people contracted the
virus last year. Despite a comparatively low prevalence of HIV/AIDS
in the region, growth rates in Estonia, Russia and Ukraine are among
the world’s highest. The Report stresses that the HIV/AIDS crisis
poses a threat to the region’s economic growth, resulting in an
estimated loss of at least one percent GDP growth per year.
The Report shows that a one percent infection rate among the adult
population is the threshold above which efforts to turn back the
epidemic become extremely difficult. The Report also argues that
delays in taking proper action can be catastrophic: only twelve years
ago, South Africa was facing a less than one percent infection rate
among adult population; now that rate is twenty times higher.
According to Ms. Grande: “UNDP’s Report reveals that there is
already an HIV crisis in the CIS. Although the situation in Armenia
is not as disastrous as in some other major CIS countries, steps need
to be taken now to avoid the kind of catastrophe that is affecting
other countries. By working together, the Government, civil society,
the mass media and donors can make a difference. Through Reports like
the one we are launching today, we can help raise awareness among the
general public and promote responsible behavior among all people
living in Armenia.”
Background: From 1988 to July 1, 2004, 279 HIV carriers have been
registered in the Republic of Armenia, of whom 265 are citizens: 206
cases (77.7%) are men, 59 cases (22.3%) are women and 3 cases (1.1%)
are children. The majority of HIV carriers (79.2%) belong to the
20-39 age group. The most common modes of transmission in Armenia are
injection drug usage and heterosexual practices.