Saudi Arabia will host an AIDS workshop at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center (KFSH&RC) in Riyadh on International AIDS Day on December 1 as part of efforts to increase public awareness about the disease and to ensure greater care and dignity for patients suffering from it. Conference discussions will cover HIV/AIDS epidemiology, HIV among women in the Kingdom, identification and diagnosis of the disease, and the national AIDS program.
Growth of HIV/AIDS in Saudi Arabia is not as alarming as in many other countries, but in view of the rise in incidence especially in the Middle East, it is necessary to achieve the minimum requirements in dealing with this major problem. There are still no structured educational programs in the Kingdom, qualified health care workers are few, and the disease itself is still somewhat of a taboo subject. Nevertheless, it was as early as 1984 that the Ministry of Health started a program of registration for all AIDS patients, hoping to check the spread of the disease, and any expatriate worker found infected faces immediate deportation. Recently, plans were announced for three specialized laboratories to be set up in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam to study and evaluate AIDS cases.