December 1 is World AIDS Day, which aims to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS worldwide. Every year on this day, government agencies and non-governmental organizations join forces to spread information about HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. This year’s theme for World AIDS Day is “Let Communities Lead”. According to the World Health Organization’s official website, this slogan is a call to action to empower and support communities in their leadership roles.

Unfortunately, in Armenia, as in many countries of the world, there are still widespread misconceptions and stereotypes about HIV/AIDS. As a Trans LGBIQ and Sex Worker community-based organization, Right Side Human Rights Defender NGO is committed to fighting prejudice and developing an inclusive society without prejudice, because real protection includes not only access to information and medical services, but also the creation of an environment based on dignity and respect, where every individual, regardless of social status, gender identity and sexual orientation, is protected from discrimination. Unfortunately, people living with HIV/AIDS are often subjected to a differentiated approach both in different sectors of society and in government agencies. Discriminatory practices by government and law enforcement agencies not only perpetuate negative stereotypes, but also create an environment where individuals may hesitate to seek help or access needed services.

In Armenia, the right to privacy of personal life is often not respected, as a result of which the disclosure of HIV status without consent remains a common problem, an example of which is the case that happened last month, when patrols found antiretroviral drugs in the bag of a man with HIV and he was taken to the Central Department on suspicion of drug possession. In the department, they mocked him, humiliated him, answered his phone calls without permission, and revealed his HIV positive status to family members.

On World AIDS Day, Right Side Human Rights Defender NGO reaffirms its commitment to work for the protection of the community. Since 2016, the organization has conducted HIV/AIDS research  among Trans LGBIQ and sex workers, provided HIV prevention kits, and organized a series of educational workshops, community meetings, and training on HIV/AIDS.

December 1, 2023 Armenia, Yerevan

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