The Saudi Press Agency reports that Saudi Arabia has reaffirmed its commitment to fighting AIDS and supporting people who are suffering from the disease. Mohammed Al-Ateeq, acting charge d’affaires for the Kingdom’s permanent representatives to the United Nations, says that his country has both preventative and remedial programs to combat Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and avert young people from acquiring it.
He also says his country has been removing the stigma associated with the condition to help maintain the rights and freedoms of those who suffer from it and dissuade prejudice against them.
During a session of the UN General Assembly plenary in the United States (New York), the envoy was discussing the continued execution of the 2001 HIV/AIDS Declaration of Commitment.
Al-Ateeq reports that the Kingdom began the national AIDS Program in 1994. It has a major central operational unit as well as 20 other units spread throughout the country. The program offers health care services, such as therapy and psychiatric and social care, as well as prevention services to fight HIV, which causes AIDS.
He went on to say that the initiative is dedicated to teaching and making people aware of the disease, particularly women and children, and that it includes routine awareness drives, HIV/AIDS treatment manuals, counselling assistance, and volunteer testing centres.
The launch of an AIDS prevention system in 2018 was one of the most visible recent reforms in the Saudi Kingdom, according to Al-Ateeq, which ensures that the rights and freedoms of HIV/AIDS patients along with their families are protected, including their freedom to continue their higher education, gain employment and receive the necessary healthcare care and remedial rehabilitation.
“It also requires health administrations to give patients care, attention, counselling, and psychological aid; to respect their rights, to enlighten them on how the disease is communicated and treated, and to raise general knowledge about it,” he added.
According to Al-Ateeq, the system cautions against compelling a pregnant woman with HIV/AIDS to get an abortion, denying her guardianship or care of her children because of her condition, and emphasizes the importance of providing her and the unborn with the required health treatment.
In addition, Saudi Arabia has one of the lowest HIV infection rates in the world, but its laws, regulations, and practices prohibit discriminating against HIV-positive people, degrading their dignity, diminishing their rights, or exploiting them.
Failure to follow these standards, according to Al-Ateeq, is a felony punishable by law with a fine and/or imprisonment, and aggrieved parties have the right to seek compensation. In line with its legislative and political frameworks, as well as religious and cultural principles, he noted that the Kingdom sustains regional and global policies aimed at eliminating HIV and AIDS by the year 2030.