30 July 2019
Anahit Harutyunyan has been President of the Positive People Armenian Network (PPAN) since its foundation in 2006.
The organisation provides support to people living with HIV (PLHIV) who are also co-infected with hepatitis. Their mission is to work with society so that people living with HIV, hepatitis and tuberculosis will feel valued and involved and not have to avoid speaking about their status because of issues of discrimination and stigma. They also advocate for free and accessible treatment.
“Our organisation has been providing care and support to PLHIV since 2007. Through our work, we do advocacy every day, fighting against stigma and discrimination. But, more professionally, we started advocacy activities from 2013, when we advocated for hepatitis C treatment availability and accessibility. One of our main achievements has been the provision of a monitoring report of antiretroviral therapy (ARV) procurement in Armenia, the results of which are used by the Ministry of Health for better procurement planning.”
On dolutegravir (DTG) specifically:
“Armenia has access to DTG, as the main ARV drugs have been provided by the Global Fund. I would strongly recommend DTG to PLHIV because it only needs to be taken once a day, there is no resistance, and has a very quick virological response. It also has high efficacy, very rare cases of side effects (mainly insomnia), but, if it used in the mornings, no side effects at all in that case.”
“We will continue to monitor availability of DTG in Armenia, and ensure the Ministry of Health will continue ARV drugs procurement here. It is very important that we encourage the usage of these drugs as they solve the problem of adherence.”
An advocate’s mission is never done. Anahit is currently advocating with her country’s National Center for AIDS Prevention to educate and involve more patients with DTG treatment. “It is something that could be used for PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) so we will advocate for it further.” She is also keen to introduce bictegravir – a new drug that is being studied to treat HIV infection.
UNAIDS country stats – Armenia
Bictegravir – more information at the US Department of Health here