HIV screening to be part of premarital tests soon in Saudi Arabia


The new test came as a priority recommendation during the Health Marriage Symposium that was held in Riyadh two weeks ago.

“I have announced in the symposium that the Ministry of Health would implement all the recommendations that result from the event, especially important ones such as the pre-marriage HIV test,” said Al-Manie.

The minister did not reveal an exact date or details about the implementation of the new test that would be included with the current compulsory testing for the recessive genes of sickle cell anemia and beta thalasemia, which are more likely to appear in children produced from marriage between cousins that both have the recessive genes for these conditions.

Al-Manie was speaking to the press on Sunday afternoon during the launch of the first summer health awareness campaign that was staged at King Abdul Aziz International Airport.

The minister announced 11,510 reported cases of HIV positive patients around the Kingdom from 1984 up to 2006 in which 23 percent of them are Saudi nationals.

“According to this figure, the Kingdom has the lowest HIV reported cases in the world,” he said.

The UN’s World Health Organization stated that for every reported HIV carrier there is at least nine unreported ones. If this WHO estimation is correct, it means that the announced official figure represents around 10 percent of the actual HIV cases in the Kingdom.

Al-Manie attributed the low rate of HIV in the Kingdom to the cultural behavior of the Saudi citizens who follow the rules of Islam.

The minister said the new campaign is being held at Jeddah airport and soon it would take place at both Riyadh and Dammam international airports. He noted that because of the high flight traffic during summer, the campaign would target a high number of people, especially the youth.
The summer campaign includes awareness brochures, on-spot video presentations and information centers about the sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. While no figures are available, many in Saudi Arabia believe that sexually transmitted infections — including AIDS and the Hepatitis C — are spread in the Kingdom by Saudis (mostly men) who travel abroad, engage in unsafe sex, contract these viruses, and introduce them to others inside the Kingdom, especially wives.

The Ministry of Health, Saudi Arabian Airlines and the General Authority of Civil Aviation organized the campaign jointly.


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