U.N. Launches HIV/AIDS Awareness Campaign in Saudi Arabia With Workshop for Teenagers
The United Nations launched an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in Saudi Arabia with a workshop for 25 teenagers in the capital Riyadh, U.N. Development Programme Coordinator Mayssam Tamim said on Wednesday, Reuters reports (Evans, Reuters, 10/5). The workshop -- which began last week and is organized by UNDP and UNICEF -- includes a presentation to teens ages 13 to 17 to illustrate facts about HIV, as well as activities designed to raise awareness about the disease (Ali Khan, Arab News, 9/30). "Educating our teenagers is the best ammunition to help us beat HIV/AIDS in this part of the world, where prevalence is still relatively low," Tamim said in a statement (Adnkronos International, 10/6). She said she plans to hold similar workshops in other private schools in the country before seeking permission to hold them in government schools, adding, "We would like to work with the government to see how this can be implemented." The Saudi government reported 1,181 HIV cases and 989 AIDS cases by the end of June. The figure does not include cases among foreigners, who make up more than one-third of the country's adult population and who are immediately deported without treatment if they test positive for the virus. HIV-positive Saudi citizens receive antiretroviral therapy at no cost. A Ministry of Health AIDS information booklet published earlier this year issued "mix[ed] warnings" about unsafe sexual contact, according to Reuters. The booklet says that "our communities are immune [to HIV/AIDS] with religious teachings and social values," adding, "Fortunately, AIDS is only transmitted through improper practices" (Reuters, 10/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.