December 11, 2009

World AIDS Day 2009 "Stop the Counter"

Public Information and Need of Knowledge, Armenian Student Forum, Real World - Real People, Positive People Armenian Network non-governmental organizations conducted “Stop the Counter” action dedicated to the World AIDS Day aiming to raise society's awareness and consciousness about the spread of HIV and stigma & discrimination against people living with HIV.

In the frames of the project trainers of PINK Armenia organized "HIV awareness" training sessions for 70 volunteers of ASF from November 26 to 29.

On November 30, we organized a press conference in "Urbat" press club dedicated to the World AIDS Day (financial support by Norwegian Government). About 25 journalists participated in the discussion addressing their questions to the coordination team of the event. During the conference mainly were touched the problems of students, drug users, men having sex with men, sex workers and people living with HIV.

That evening, which was the last preparational day, stayed in our memories as a day of friendship, tolerence and unity. More than 20 people joined to make hundreds of handmade boxes, tasty cookies with the shape of ribbon, drawing on the posters and T-shirts. It was the day when people did not care if others are married or single, students or employees, gay or heterosexual, living with or without HIV.

On December 1, we all gathered near the statue of Komitas (near Conservatory) at 4pm, having white T-Shirts with numbers on it and a red ribbon on the back side. Those numbers were symbolizing the number of people being infected with HIV in Armenia.
After we moved, taking direction to Republic Square through the Northern avenue. Like never before, we had few live performances and flash mobs on the way, tryingto concentrate society's attention on the issues of HIV and human rights. We had several banners in our hands written on it: "HIV cannot be transmitted by respect, friendship, care, touch". The big Red Ribbon was held by two people in the front of the march.
At Republic Square we continued the other part of our action "Human Ribbon", to make the shape of ribbon with the help of participants as a sign of solidarity of people living with HIV.
At 6pm, as it was planned, we started the "Stop the Counter" action at Aznavour Square, near the cinema Moscow. There was a big screen, showing increasing number of people being infected with HIV, the goal of this part was to stop the counter with the help of society.There were colorful stones on the table and people were asked to make their contribution, to put one stone in the box. As heavier the box was becoming as slower the counter was working.Volunteers had time to explain people the importance of their input on prevention of HIV and respecting the rights of others. For each person we had a small box with a "Ribbon" cookie, two condoms and an info material.This was another step to break stereotypes among population about condoms, that condom can be in the same box with food and there is nothing wrong in it.
People were really active and the counter was stopped even earlier than we planned, It stoped on 2471, almost the number of people living with HIV in Armenia that statistic shows.

After we entered the cinema Moscow where National Center for AIDS Prevention prepared a movie to show. Before movie starts we had another live show on the stage, where each participant said one phrase created by the World AIDS Campaign (with few changes) in the frames of this year's slogan "Universal Access and Human Rights".
- I have rights to be healthy
- I am safe
- I am getting treatment
- I am well
- I am living my rights
- My baby has rights to live
- I am accepted
(watch the video below)

We call our society to pay more attention on HIV related issues and remember that HIV can be transmitted also by hate, intolerence, abuse and dscrimination.
Make your contribution! Stop the counter of HIV infecting.

PINK wants to thank the coordinator of the action Elmira Bakhshinyan (RWRP), Women's Resource Center and National Citizens' Initiative for their participation, municipality of Yerevan city for permission, all the volunteers and coordination team for their hard work and UNAIDS for the financial support.

more pictures are available at PINK website

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