Although divided by a separatist conflict and decades of tension, Abkhaz and Georgians have proven willing to set mutual grievances aside when humanitarian matters come into play. One such area is the treatment of those infected with HIV/AIDS.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), a Stockholm-based European Union agency, reports that Georgia has one of Europe’s highest rates of full-blown AIDS cases – 6.5 per 100,000 people compared with 1 case per 100,000 people in the European Union.
As do most international organizations, the ECDC includes Abkhazia in its evaluation of Georgia. EurasiaNet.org could not obtain comprehensive, separate statistics for HIV/AIDS in the breakaway territory.
Intravenous drug use is named as the largest risk factor for HIV transmission; in Georgian-controlled territory, it accounts for approximately 55.9 percent of the 2,904 cases of HIV infection registered in 2011, according to Tbilisi’s Center for Infectious Diseases, AIDS and Clinical Immunology.
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Paul Rimple and Giorgi Lomsadze are both freelance reporters based in Tbilisi.