(AFP) – Jan 2, 2008
RIYADH (AFP) — A Saudi human rights watchdog is urging carriers of the AIDS virus to report any discrimination they suffer in the conservative Muslim kingdom, the Jeddah daily Arab News said on Wednesday.
The National Society for Human Rights made the appeal ahead of the expected unveiling in March of draft legislation that will set out the rights of HIV carriers in Saudi Arabia for the first time, the paper said.
The new bill could feature clauses to guarantee access to education, employment and travel, it added.
Set up in 2004, the NSHR was the kingdom's first unofficial human rights group and describes itself as independent of the government.
The most recent figures on HIV infection in Saudi Arabia date back to November 2005. Then a health ministry official said that nearly 11,000 cases had been reported since the first case was diagnosed in 1984.
Of the 10,924 cases, 2,005 were among Saudis and 8,919 among expatriates, the official said.
In August, the Saudi press reported that the health ministry was drawing up plans to impose HIV tests on prospective couples from this year.
Would-be brides and grooms will have to be tested for both HIV and hepatitis in one of more than 20 centres being set up across the kingdom, the reports said.
If either partner tests HIV positive and the couple still wants to marry, the case will be examined in conjunction with the justice ministry, the reports added.
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