Saudi admits to 6700 AIDS cases

Saudi Arabia has registered more than 6700 cases of AIDS, the Ministry of Health has announced.

    Foreigners make up the bulk of AIDS cases in the kingdom

    Muhammad al-Jifri, head of the Epidemic and Parasitic Diseases Authority, said on Tuesday the kingdom had 6787 AIDS patients, including 1509 Saudi nationals.

    Seventy-seven percent of the patients, aged

    between 15-49, were men, he said. 

    The Red Sea province of Jiddah has the largest proportion of cases at 41%

    .

    Sexual prohibitions

    Last year alone, Saudi authorities registered at least 200 new cases,

    al-Jifri said.

    He added 95% of the patients in Saudi Arabia acquired the virus 

    from "forbidden sexual relations".

    Sex outside marriage is prohibited by Islam.

    Saudi Arabia has harsh

    penalties for people who commit adultery or fornication, including

    imprisonment or the death penalty.

    AIDS epidemic

    Seven million foreigners live in Saudi Arabia, which has a population of about 19 million people.

    AIDS, short for acquired immune deficiency syndrome, is spread most often

    through sexual contact, contaminated needles shared by drug

    abusers, infected blood, and from pregnant women to their

    offspring.

    Forty million people worldwide have the virus, about 29 million of them in

    Africa.

    UNAIDS estimates there will be 45 million new infections by 2010 if

    efforts to fight the epidemic are not bolstered.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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