More Aids Clinics Planned in Saudi


Al-Zahrani said there are over 12,000 AIDS-infected people currently living in the Kingdom. Starting next summer, prospective couples would be made to undergo AIDS tests as part of pre-marriage checkups, he added.

In 2005, some 11,000 people, including 2,658 Saudis, had AIDS. In 2006, a further 1,390, of them 342 Saudis, were diagnosed to have AIDS. The provinces that recorded high incidence of AIDS included Riyadh, Makkah, Madinah, Jeddah, the Eastern Province and Jizan, said Dr. Al-Zahrani. He added that the increase does not mean there is a growth in the number of infected cases but is an indication that observation techniques in the Kingdom have improved.

“For every five infected men there is one infected woman. Ninety percent of them have caught the virus through sexual relations. Only 10 percent have caught AIDS through blood transfusion. The people to blame for infection is the youth that are involved in multiple-sexual relationships,” said Al-Zahrani.

He said that the disease is not widespread in the Kingdom, but added that Saudi society is not 100 percent perfect. “Saudi youths travel abroad and interact with other cultures.”

The official said the main purpose of the proposed medical centers is to treat AIDS patients in the countryside instead of them having to travel to big cities for treatment. The new centers will be established in Ahsa, Madinah, Asir and Al-Jouf.

Al-Zahrani also said that three clinics, known as “voluntary clinics,” would be located at airports in Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah to spread awareness among travelers who may feel ashamed to visit AIDS centers. “We have already started training doctors and employees in order to start the clinics at airports before summer begins,” said Dr. Al-Zahrani.

“There will be another 20 voluntary clinics established in other parts of the Kingdom. These clinics will include sociologists and psychologists, as well as male and female nurses. People will be able to take advantage of the services there by registering themselves using a serial code number rather than their name and address to ensure privacy. If a patient is discovered to be infected then he will be transferred to specialists to receive the needed medication,” said Dr. Al-Zahrani.


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