LET COMMUNITIES LEAD. WORLD AIDS DAY 2023. RESULTS, GAPS AND CHALLENGES
Every year, on 1 December, the world commemorates World AIDS Day. The day was proclaimed in 1988 to raise the awareness about AIDS epidemics that originated through the spreading of HIV infection.
Each year on this day New Generation Humanitarian NGO organizes different events to mark the day, to highlight the importance of HIV and AIDS prevention, to draw the attention of the international community, state bodies and the general society on the issues and problems in the field, the implemented actions, registered progress and still existing gaps, and to show support and solidarity to people living and affected with HIV.
This years’ public event organized through cooperation of New Generation Humanitarian NGO (NG NGO) and UNAIDS was under the theme “Let Communities Lead” and titled “HIV and AIDS Prevention in Armenia. Results, Gaps and Challenges”.
The goal of the meeting was to discuss the HIV and AIDS situation in Armenia, prevention and treatment services among key populations, the existing challenges, access to HIV services among forcibly displaced populations from Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), migrants and refugees from Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and other countries, who have moved to Armenia as a result of the war situation in Ukraine, political and non-political repressions, the steps and interventions undertaken to ensure the access and expansion of the services among the latter, implemented actions and programs, the achievements and progress registered in the field, still existing gaps, necessary changes and future steps.
In his opening speech, Sergey Gabrielyan, the president of New Generation Humanitarian NGO emphasized the close cooperation established between state, international and local structures, importance of promotion of community engagement in the context of the effective fight against HIV and AIDS in Armenia, first of all expressing his deep thanks and support to all frontline fighters, healthcare workers, NGOs and all those who support and encourage this important work.
In his speech S. Gabrielyan noted “we realize that Armenia is not yet ready to fulfill its commitment to end AIDS by 2030, due to the emergency situations created as a result of COVID-19, the 44-day war, the war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine, the following huge inflow of migrants, refugees from Ukraine, Russia Belarus, forcibly displacement of Armenians from Artsakh”.
Sergey Gabrielyan, concluded his speech by referring to the theme of World AIDS Day 2023, “Let Communities Lead”, once again emphasizing the need for active participation of the communities in decision-making processes, as well as the importance of taking into account the primary needs of the latter for more effective fight against HIV and AIDS.
In this context, Mr. Gabrielyan also noted:
“This time, in the process of developing and preparing the country’s 2025-2027 grant application to be submitted by Armenia to the Global Fund, we have aachieved a very big and encouraging result: the effective and significant participation of the key populations in the process.” However, he added that stigma, discrimination, hatred and violence against key populations, vulnerable communities still prevail in Armenia, and “in the process of fighting against this stigma and discrimination, we still need support and solidarity from our international partners and allies, because “We are on a democratic, but still rocky path to equality and non-discrimination.”
H.E.M. Viktor Richter, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Germany, H.E.M. Patrik Svensson, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Sweden, H.E.M. Olivier Decottignies, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of France, H.E.M. John Gallagher, British Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, H.E.M. Petr Pirunčík, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Czech Republic made welcoming remarks emphasizing the importance of HIV and AIDS prevention and awareness raising interventions, expressing their commitment to further strengthen the cooperation of the diplomatic missions represented by them and state, public, local and international organizations, as well as to conduct close and continuous work in order to make the support and programs provided even more targeted and effective.
Welcoming remarks were followed by the presentation of the 2023 World AIDS Day report by Roza Babayan, UNAIDS Armenia Country Director. The latter also made a reference to the theme of the 2023 World AIDS Day, stressing the importance of community leadership in the effective fight against HIV and AIDS.
The meeting also included presentations and discussions of such important topics and issues as the barriers to the provision of HIV and AIDS services, the 2022-2026 National Programme on HIV and AIDS Prevention, the situation of HIV and AIDS in Armenia, the HIV cascade in Armenia, prevention programs implemented among key populations, available services, access to HIV services among forcibly displaced populations from Nagorno-Karabakh, migrants and refugees from Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and other countries, who have moved to Armenia as a result of the war situation in Ukraine, existing gaps, challenges and ways to solve them.
During and at the end of the event, the participants had the opportunity to ask the speakers their questions, speak up about the problems, gaps and challenges in the field, as well as discuss solutions and new opportunities.
The meeting was also attended by representatives of EU Delegation, US Embassy, Embassy of Ukraine, UNHCR, USAID, Peace Corps Armenia, Doctors Without Borders Humanitarian AID organization, Ministry of Health, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Human Rights Defenders’ office of Armenia and other state, international and local structures, as well as representatives of medical institutions, key communities, Artsakh-Armenian population, migrants, refugees from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, etc.
The meeting was wrapped up by the president of NG NGO, who highlighted the importance of close cooperation and unity of state, international, local structures and engagement of beneficiary communities in order to raise awareness, eliminate stigma and have an AIDS-free future.
“Together we can achieve changes and build a world where everyone enjoys full, affordable and non-discriminatory access to all health services.”
Sergey Gabrielyan also expressed his hope that at next year’s meeting the registered successes and progress will be more significant and will perevail the problems and gaps.
During the meeting, the guests also had the opportunity to express their solidarity to the significance and theme of the day by taking photos near the banners dedicated to WAD 2023.