DELIVERING AS ONE: UN AGENCIES OPEN HIV/AIDS COMMUNITY INFORMATION AND RESOURCE CENTRE IN GYUMRI
GYUMRI, 4 December 2008 – UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA and UNAIDS Joint Programme opened today community-based HIV/AIDS Information and Resource Centre in Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city and the capital of Shirak marz.The community centre established within the framework of “Advocacy in Action”, a UN joint project on HIV/AIDS, will serve as information hub for about 20,000 residents of the city’s Ani district that has the highest number of labour migrants. In addition, the centre will provide peer support and outreach services to people living with HIV as well as will refer the most at-risk groups to voluntary counselling and testing service sites.
“The response to AIDS depends on the strength of individuals and communities. To halt the epidemic, it is essential to eliminate the social and economic inequalities and injustices that fuel its spread. Empowering individuals and communities to respond to AIDS is a critical and a fundamental part of respecting, protecting and promoting their human rights,” Gayane Tovmasyan, the Project Coordinator, stressed in her opening remarks.
The UN Joint Project "Advocacy in Action" was signed in June 2008 as a continuation of the "Care and Support to People Living with HIV" UN joint project that was started in May 2006. The present joint project aims at increasing commitment of decision makers in addressing issues of people living with HIV and reducing stigma and discrimination, strengthening civil society networks as well as self-help groups to increase their participation in decision making processes as wll as at promoting safe behavior among most at- risk populations.
“The best way to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and reduce the impact of the epidemic is to have adequate knowledge and skills on HIV prevention, and the centre provides an opportunity for any person to receive comprehensive information on HIV/AIDS as well as health and social services available,” Hovhannes Madoyan, co-president of the “Real World, Real People” NGO said, adding that the “centre will also facilitate coordination among community-based NGOs working in the area of HIV/AIDS and related issues as well as provide them with an opportunity to bring important issues to the level of the Country Coordination Commission on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria issues.”
Within the framework of the UN joint project on HIV/AIDS similar community information and resource centre will soon start operating in Vanadzor, Lori marz.
Globally there are 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS today. Since 1988 656 people with HIV/AIDS have been registered in Armenia, including 13 children. The highest number of HIV cases has been reported in Yerevan, 301 cases, or 45.9% of all the registered cases. Shirak marz ranks second with 66 cases, or 10.1% of all the registered cases.
For more information, please contact:
Emil Sahakyan, UNICEF Communication Officer
Tel.: (374 10) 52 35 46, ext.113