Economic and social hardships of the past decade have had an adverse impact on the health and behaviour of young people in Armenia.
As of June 1 2007, there were 433 officially registered cases of human immunodefficiency virus (HIV), including 71 under the age of 24, among citizens of the Republic of Armenia although the real number is believed to be 10 times higher. Professionals in the fields of health, education, social welfare and other sectors to whom young people could turn for counselling, support and care are rarely trained in matters of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), sexuality, sexual and reproductive health, and youth friendly approaches.
Until recently, the importance of sexual as well as health education for young people in Armenia was largely ignored. It has not been incorporated into the secondary school. As a result, parents and other family members, as well as the larger community, are unable to effectively support adolescents and young people in this rapidly changing environment.
Although attitudes in society towards those diagnosed with HIV are changing, the discrimination against those people still exists. People living with HIV are often denied jobs, social services and health care.
In partnership with the Government of Armenia and local and international organizations, UNICEF is working to change this situation. UNICEF seeks to strengthen the capacities of adolescents aged 10-18 in prevention of HIV/STIs through peer education, youth friendly health services, and HIV life skills based education (Healthy Life Style).
UNICEF is also supporting programmes and activities that seek to increase young people's access to information so that they can better protect themselves from HIV and STIs.