|HIV \ AIDS|
The Arab Region has a unique opportunity to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS. Today, over half a million people are living with HIV/AIDS in the Arab region, with 67,000 new infections estimated in 2005 alone while Western Europe had 22,000. 28,000 died of AIDS in the Arab world in 2005, while 8000 died in Western Europe.
Four out of five women infected in the Arab world are infected by their husbands. Women are increasingly vulnerable to HIV infection and now make up over half of all people living with HIV/AIDS. Out of those people living with HIV/AIDS today, only 5% are able to access life-prolonging Antiretroviral (ARV) therapies, demonstrating the minimal response in the Arab region compared to global ARV coverage.
This subject was taboo in Saudi Arabia as it was in the rest of the world for many years,. This is no more the case, statistics are now published, medical care made available (gratis for Nationals) and authorities are urging compassion.
In Saudi Arabia nearly 10,000 HIV/AIDS cases have been reported since 1986. 23% of whom are Saudis. Jeddah tops the list of the most affected cities in the Kingdom, accounting for 15% of the cases. In general, 78.4 percent of the victims were infected via sexual intercourse. Transfusion of imported blood, needle sharing and mothers to child transmission represents 21.6 percent of the total cases. Infected men outnumbered infected women by three to one. Almost 80% of the patients are between 15 and 49 years old. The rate of the spread of the disease among children is 4.6%. (Saudi Population 26,417,599, Age break down; 0-14 years: 38.2% (male 5,149,960/female 4,952,138) 15-64 years: 59.4% (male 8,992,348/female 6,698,633) HIV-positive citizens who have long been eligible to receive health care at no cost now receive free antiretroviral drugs (Cost per treatment per month 10,000 Saudi Riyals (US$2,700)).
However, more than three-quarters of people living with HIV/AIDS in the country are expatriates, who are not eligible for no-cost health care and often are sent back home after an initial treatment.HIV/AIDS data in the region is still far from accurate.
This is unfortunately due to social barriers, stigmatization and discrimination associated with the disease, all of which may prevent individuals from seeking voluntary HIV testing and counseling. As a result the available figures may be only the tip of the iceberg. UNDP Saudi Arabia Country Office assisted the HIV/AIDS Regional Programme in the Arab States (UNDP-HARPAS) in inviting a number of participants to the various awareness workshops held around the region.
As a result of these meetings and in order to help coordinate efforts, UNDP SA invited participants from Ministries, Media, NGOs, Hospitals, Drug Rehabilitation Centers, Human Rights Society, and the National HIV/AIDS Programme to a series of meetings aimed at exchanging knowledge and ensuring the message of awareness is delivered to as wide a segment of the population as possible.
This group of stakeholders will form the core of our activity and, based on their requests and in close coordination with the UN country Theme Group on HIV/AIDS (UNDP, UNICEF, UNHCR and WHO) we hope to deliver tangible programmes and create awareness.
* There are no ongoing projects currently.