As Georgia aspires closer ties with the EU, the magazine features interviews with the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency director Morten Kjaerum.
According to the Georgian Centre for Infectious Pathologies, AIDS and Clinical Immunology, there are 1,825 cases of HIV infection in Georgia as of 12 December 2008. Of this number, 1,372 are men and 453 are women. Most infected people are between the ages of 29 and 35 years. A total of 402 people have died of AIDS in Georgia. 487 patients are currently undergoing treatment. The following is the distribution of likely transmission ways among HIV/AIDS cases registered in Georgia, as determined through patient interviews: 59.5 per cent are injecting drug users (have shared unsterilized needles with other users); 33.4 per cent were infected through heterosexual contact; 2.7 per cent contracted the virus through homosexual contact (men having sex with men); 2.4 per cent were infected by their mother (either in uterus or from breastfeeding); 0.6 per cent contracted HIV through blood infusions; 1.4 per cent - cause of infection undetermined.
ME: It is a very difficult time for Georgia right now and this is discussed a lot on the European level. We feel that social phobias are becoming more severe in this situation. Do you think that external threats can be an excuse for undermining the rights of social minorities? When a country is at war, is it time for a break in defending the rights of LGBT people?You may download current issue of the magazine by clicking here. Previous issues of the magazine are accessible at the following link.
Thomas Hammarberg: In fact, in a situation of crisis with the security of a nation and in an economic crisis, it is even more important to continue watching the treatment of minorities and those who traditionally tend to be discriminated against. Because in the crisis situation there is a risk that certain groups of society will be scapegoated. So I would say the opposite – it is important to remain on watch both on the national level as well as by international agencies to ensure that scapegoating or discrimination does not take place. Security concerns and economic crisis is not a justification for discrimination.