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Saudi Arabia

Stigma horror: 7 with HIV ‘sacked unfairly’

RIYADH: Seven people who have tested positive for HIV have been fired unfairly from their jobs at private companies, a local charity announced on Tuesday.
Abdullah Al-Huqail, deputy board chairman of the Charitable Society for the Care of AIDS Patients (Mana’a) in Riyadh and head of the infectious diseases department at King Faisal Specialist Hospital, said that he had assured them they could get their jobs back, but they refused to return because of the stigma attached to having the virus, the report in a local daily stated.
Al-Huqail said that the charity had recently assisted a primary school student who had AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). The child had contracted the virus from his mother at birth. The charity’s officials had then gone to the school to explain his predicament, and asked the administration to keep his condition a secret until he could complete his education. Al-Huqail said that while cases worldwide had dropped by
23 percent, there was a 13 percent rise in the Kingdom. Briefing volunteers seeking to helping people with AIDS, he said that those living with the virus can live productive lives with proper treatment and support.
Al-Huqail said that people must distinguish between those afflicted with HIV and others with full-blown AIDS.
Those living with HIV can take drugs that would control the virus, while those at an advanced stage of AIDS often do not respond to treatment, he said.

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