Arab Governments Wake Up to AIDS Threat

by Christian Huxley
published in MER161

In the summer, when thousands of young Gulf Arab men flee heat and boredom in their native land, airport posters warn them of a life-threatening danger lurking abroad, symbolized by a skeleton and four red letters: AIDS. Radio talk shows urge Gulf tourists to be chaste when they visit foreign cities portrayed as infested with the disease, especially in the West. Religious scholars tell audiences at Friday prayer meetings and at the AIDS conferences now held regularly in the region that only the teachings of Allah can save believers from the modern-day scourge knocking at the Middle East's door.

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Moroccan Youth, Sex and Islam

by Abdessamad Dialmy
published in MER206

According to official statistics from Morocco’s Ministry of Public Health, from the beginning of the AlDS pandemic to 1997, 450 cases of HIV infection had been recorded in the country. At the same time, a minimum of 100,000 new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as syphilis, gonorrhea, chancroid and genital herpes are reported annually in Morocco. [1]

AIDS Hotline in Cairo

Breaking a Social Taboo

by Karim El-Gawhary
published in MER206

“AIDS is God’s punishment for all those who pollute the country with their sins,” writes the Egyptian weekly newspaper al-Liwa$rsquo; al-Islami (The Islamic Banner) under the headline: “To Follow the Path of Islam Is the Best Way Not to Get Infected.”

In the Egyptian media, attacks on people with HIV are common. Those, however, who do not want to sweep the issue of AIDS under the carpet are ready to deal with the 600 officially registered Egyptians who have been “punished by God” since the disease first appeared in Egypt more than 11 years ago. The World Health Organization puts the figure at ten times the official estimate.

HIV/AIDS in the Middle East and North Africa

A Primer

by Sandy Sufian
published in MER233

Have the Middle East and North Africa largely escaped the global AIDS epidemic? The available data seems to say so. UNAIDS reports that, at the close of 2003, there were 480,000 adults and children living with HIV/AIDS in the Arab world, Iran, Israel and Turkey. Compared to sub-Saharan Africa, where there are approximately 25 million cases of the disease, or South and Southeast Asia, where there are approximately 6.5 million, this number is tiny -- about 1 percent of the world's caseload.