Saudi health expert says measures to fight AIDS inadequate


“The campaigns to enlighten people about the disease are notably deficient. Even those working in the medical sector are not sufficiently aware of the aspects of the disease and its consequences,” Dr. Abdullah Al-Hokail, consultant in communicable diseases at the King Faisal Special Hospital in Riyadh, was quoted as saying by Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper.

The specialist hospital also provides social rehabilitation for AIDS patients, many of whom are viewed with abhorrence even by family members, Dr. Hokail said. “Of the 490 patients receiving treatment at the hospital in Riyadh, 309 are men, 181 are women and 60 are children,” he said.

The doctor urged multilevel strategies to arrest the spread of the disease, which is estimated to have increased at a rate of between 12 percent and 17 percent over the past four years.

The doctor said that a recent study conducted by the Ministry of Health showed that 87 percent of AIDS patients in the Kingdom admitted that illegal sexual relations were the source of the disease.

The doctor added that other causes were muscular drug injections, unhygienic practices of blood cupping and barber shops using a single razor for several customers. He warned Haj pilgrims against having their hair cut in barber shops where there is a likelihood of used razors being employed. A razor with the blood of an HIV carrier on it might transmit the virus to a healthy man, he said.

However, the doctor ruled out the transmission of the disease through laundries. The chemicals used during the washing process would eliminate the virus, he said.

The doctor said that the hospital had launched a marriage program for AIDS patients under its special medical supervision as part of its efforts to mitigate the sufferings of patients. The hospital authorities were encouraged to launch the program following a strong desire was expressed by several patients to begin a new family life in spite of the obvious social stigma attached to their disease.

The doctor said a total of 12 AIDS couples had been married and 10 healthy children had been born to them. The departments of communicable diseases, gynecology and obstetrics are closely observing the marriages, pregnancy, health of the fetus and actual births.




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