December 30, 2010

End of the year, beginning of new era

This is the time when we finalized this year and now we are getting ready for new challenges. During these 3 years we managed to break silence and organized groundbreaking events regarding sexual health and human rights, we promoted peace and tolerance, and this is still beginning.

We want to thank all our members, volunteers and friends for support and for being with us.

Happy New Year and PINKest wishes to us all

December 6, 2010

Silence is not a solution

World AIDS day – this is the day when the world wears red ribbon and takes actions to stop AIDS.

World AIDS Day in Armenia – this is the day when not all Armenians but at least several NGOs are raising the worldwide issue in the country. Since 2008 those NGOs work together, organize joint events and build stronger capacity for HIV awareness, prevention, treatment, care and human rights protection. Public Information and Need of Knowledge NGO (PINK Armenia) is one of them.

This year UNAIDS, UNDP and Mission East Armenian Branch supported local organizations to conduct joint event dedicated to the World AIDS Day. Event was prepared due to the World AIDS Campaign’s slogan “Universal Access and Human Rights”. PINK Armenia together with Real World Real People, Women Resource Center, Positive People Armenian Network, National Center for AIDS Prevention, Education in the Name of Health, Armenian Red Cross Society and Public Health Information Statistics created booklets with stories, telling the cases of human rights violations addressed to the people living with HIV, men having sex with men, sex workers, migrants, injecting drug users, women, the problems that they face in families, at workplace and in general in the society. The booklet was available during the UNAIDS press conference on December 1st for journalists, parliamentarians, civil society representatives and other guests.

That day, from early morning we gathered in front of the building housing many of the country’s Ministries, and set up special windows that carried the message “Open and see who can be affected by AIDS.” When people opened the window they saw themselves in the mirror, the meaning was that anybody can be infected with HIV. Usually people think that AIDS is not their problem, only drug users, “bad” women or gays can be affected by AIDS. We wanted to show that there are no risky people, but there is risky behavior that any of us can have. Mostly governmental employees didn’t pay attention, either they were late or they thought it was some action against them.

Later that day, we marched in the central streets of Yerevan, distributing info materials and spreading the message “Silence is not a solution”. During the march we had flashmobs with panels, when we put those panels together we had the slogan of the event and on the other side red ribbon. In front of the march participants were holding big red ribbon made of balloons. In the end of march, near the Opera House, we had the last flashmob there and blew up the balloons to break the silence.

To compare, if last year young people were passing by and asking: “Why are you having this event? We don’t have AIDS in Armenia,” this year people were more aware.

For HIV prevention there are 3 main steps: awareness, advocacy and behavior. Now we know about HIV, also awareness raising actions are widely spread in the country to inform about the ways of transmission and how to prevent it, but do we behave safer? That is the reason that we have a lot to do in order to prevent the practicing of risky behavior. And which is the most important – never keep silence, talk about it, ask if you don’t know and inform others when you are aware, protect your rights and help to advocate for others’ rights as well.

December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day: Challenges Facing Armenia


Today is World AIDS Day—the day of the year when the world’s attention is temporarily fixated on a social phenomenon that has stolen the lives of millions of people around the world over the last 30 years.

But there is some good news. A new report by the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) shows that the AIDS epidemic is beginning to change course as the number of people newly infected with HIV is declining and AIDS-related deaths are decreasing.

Yet, despite important advances over the last 10 years, some 2.6 million people became newly infected with HIV last year. Africa continues to be the region most affected by the epidemic. But now a new trend is emerging: In seven countries, mostly in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, new HIV infection rates have increased by 25 percent in recent years.

Here’s the bad news. ARMENIA is #1 on that list. In our motherland, the epidemic is concentrated primarily among people who inject drugs, sex workers, gay men, and other men who have sex with men. It is no coincidence the epidemic is spreading in populations that are socially marginalized and politically irrelevant. Stigma, discrimination, and violence against LGBT Armenians and other vulnerable groups fuel the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Today, this injustice is tainting the moral character of our resilient people. The Armenian government, civil society groups, the private sector, the church, and the media all have a critical role to play in respond to our generation’s greatest challenge. And so do we.

As diaspora, we must face up to this new reality. We have a responsibility to raise awareness in our homes and in our communities—in schools, with lawmakers, community leaders, the media, and the church. Above all, we must support our courageous brothers and sisters working in our homeland each and every day for equality and social justice.

Get involved—write a letter to your local Armenian newspaper, encourage community leaders to raise awareness at events and support NGOs in Armenia fighting the good fight.


Jirair Ratevosian, MPH, is based in Washington D.C. He chairs the International Health Advocacy and Policy Committee of the American Public Health Association and is deputy director of public policy for amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research.

source: Asbarez Armenian News