If you are an HIV/AIDS patient looking to visit a dentist, attend school or have your hair cut in the South Caucasus country of Armenia, you might well find that your options are limited.
Despite years of public-awareness campaigns, discrimination against Armenians with either Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is widespread, according to advocates and infected individuals interviewed by EurasiaNet.org. Yet, in this small, tightly knit society, few victims are willing to speak out.
Figures for the number of Armenians suffering from HIV or AIDS vary widely. The state-run Republican Center for AIDS Control and Prevention reports 1,993 registered cases of HIV from 1988 to present. The Center itself puts the estimated number still higher – roughly 4,000 HIV-positive individuals. Both numbers are far less than a percentage point of Armenia’s 2013 population of 2.97 million people.
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Gayane Abrahamyan is a freelance reporter and editor in Yerevan.