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Results from the HIV Biological and Behavioral Surveillance in the Republic of Armenia, 2014

Due to clinical and epidemiological specificities of HIV infection it is impossible to speak about the HIV epidemic trends based only on the number of registered HIV cases. Biological and behavioural HIV surveillance is conducted regularly to measure HIV prevalence, to monitor the epidemic trends over time.

This surveillance was conducted with practical application of the second generation surveillance principles.

Second generation surveillance system allows to yield information that is most useful in reducing the spread of HIV, in monitoring epidemic trends and in planning provision of treatment and care to people living with HIV. That means tailoring the surveillance system to the state and pattern of the epidemic in the country, concentrating data collection in the key populations at higher risk of HIV exposure and young people, comparing information on HIV prevalence and on behaviours that spread it, building an informative picture of changes in the epidemic over time. The goal of biological HIV surveillance was to assess HIV prevalence among key populations at higher risk.

The behavioural HIV surveillance was conducted to identify behaviours driving HIV transmission, and to assess the level of knowledge on HIV prevention. The biological and behavioural surveillance was combined with the surveillance for other bloodborne infections and some STIs. Also, the specific uses of biological and behavioural HIV surveillance are to evaluate the success of conducted preventive activities, to design and introduce effective preventive programmes. Biological and behavioural HIV surveillance is conducted biannually. Geographic areas, sentinel populations, sentinel sites are selected, sample size are determined in advance for conducting the surveillance. To assess HIV epidemiological situation in the general population, surveillance is conducted for HIV testing of pregnant women and donated blood screening. Biological HIV surveillance among blood donors is conducted regularly on a mandatory basis. Biological HIV surveillance in pregnant women is conducted regularly in medical care facilities within the framework of provider-initiated HIV testing and counselling.

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