Delivering an opening speech at the event, Hande Harmanci, Representative of the World Health Organization in Azerbaijan, touched upon the measures taken in Azerbaijan to fight AIDS/HIV. She also highlighted the importance of stopping AIDS/HIV stigma and discrimination.
Natig Zulfugarov, Head of Monitoring and Evaluation Department under the AIDS Control Center of Azerbaijan Republic said, since the beginning of the epidemic, 75 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and about 32 million people have died of HIV.
“In Azerbaijan, HIV is spread mainly by having sex or sharing injection drug equipment, such as needles, with someone who has HIV. 563 people in Azerbaijan tested positive for HIV, 65, 9% of them are men while 34,1% are women”, he added.
Acting Director of the Azerbaijani Health Ministry's AIDS Center Esmira Almammadova emphasized that it is of great importance to raise awareness about the ways of transmission of AIDS.
“People should be aware of the spread of AIDS/HIV. It can be transmitted in a variety of ways: sexual routes (male homosexual and heterosexual), blood transfusion, exposure of blood and blood products, intravenous drug use, mother to child (perinatal and breastfeeding), and in rare cases casual exposure to an infected person. Raising awareness is a big part of encouraging empathy and end HIV related stigma”, she noted.
Esmira Almammadova also commented on the cultural restraints in Azerbaijan regarding condom promotion at education institutions, as well as on Mass Media. “We would like to have an opportunity to broadcast video materials on TV channels to increase awareness on AIDS”.
Note, the Azerbaijani government continues taking measures on preventing the spread of HIV by law. Recently, the government has improved the law on the prohibition of discrimination and stigmatization; prevention of HIV infection, prevention of HIV among risk groups and prison inmates and social protection of people living with HIV. A special working group consisting of representatives from respective ministries, medical clinics and NGOs was created in the country.
During the event, some journalists were awarded for their outstanding reportages about AIDS.
Representatives of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Health, State Agency on Mandatory Health Insurance, Ministry of Justice, UN agencies and NGOs attended the event.
Editor: Sabina Hasanova