Myths, Meanings, and Measurement: Estimating HIV Prevalence in the Southern Caucasus PDF Print E-mail

Cynthia Buckley, University of Texas, Austin

Myths, Meanings, and Measurement: Estimating HIV Prevalence in the Southern Caucasus

July 2, 2008


This paper examines patterns in HIV screening in the southern Caucasus (1994-2006) to illustrate how epidemiologically knowledge is constructed within the constraints of local meanings and mythologies relating to disease. Using official testing data, legislation on testing, media reports and in depth interviews with National HIV/AIDS center staffs, IGO (International Governmental Organization) officials and epidemiologists in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, I analyze the cultural and contextual factors influencing testing coverage, sentinel studies and estimation. Social beliefs regarding HIV/AIDS influence information reception, risk perception, voluntary testing, mandatory testing and sentinel testing approaches. The wide variations in estimated HIV prevalence in the region, mandatory testing structure and lack of consensus regarding the number of individuals engaged in risk-related behavior continue to limit the generation of precise estimations through standard epidemiological techniques and estimation procedures, making the shift to evidence based assessment in the region contentious. Estimation modifications reflecting local conditions are discussed.


Contact Information

National Council for Eurasian and East European Research

DC Office
  • 1828 L Street NW Suite 1200
  • Washington, DC 20036
  • Tel: 202-572-9095
  • Fax: 866-937-9872
  • E-mail:

ac_logo_small carnegielogo_small sd_logo_small NEH



National Council for Eurasian and East European Research (NCEEER) is a non-profit organization created in 1978 to develop and sustain long-term, high-quality programs for post-doctoral research on the social, political, economic, environmental, and historical development of Eurasia and Central and Eastern Europe.   More

Latest NCEEER Working Papers








Doctors' and Parents' Perspectives on Communication Regarding HPV Vaccination in Bulgaria

Elitsa Dimitrova, Yulia Panayotova, Anna Alexandrova-Karamanova, and Irina Todorova

Contextual Constitution of Behavior: Introducing the HPV Vaccine in Eastern Europe

Irina Todorova and Adrian Baban

The Readers of Novyi Mir, 1948-1969: A Social Portrait

Denis Kozlov