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United Press International
350 AIDS cases registered in Saudi Arabia

March 5, 2002
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, March 5 (UPI) -- Some 350 cases of AIDS were registered in Saudi Arabia last year, many of them young men who were treated by local healthcare providers, news reports said Tuesday.

The al Watan newspaper quoted the president of the contagious diseases department at King Saud University in Riyadh, Dr. Abdullah Akeel, as saying patients were treated immediately after they were diagnosed with the disease.

"Lab tests and the count of immunity cells, in addition to the level of the virus in the blood, determine the kind of treatment the patient has to receive," Akeel said.

He said the cost of treatment was high, ranging from $26,600 to $40,000 annually per person, excluding laboratory tests and clinical visits. The majority of the AIDS patients are young men between 20 and 45 years. Some of the cases have been managed successfully over the past 10 years because effective medicines are available in the country.

Akeel said it was difficult to estimate the period of treatment, which depends on many factors, including the patient's response to the medicine and the level of the virus in the blood.

"There is a particular kind of the AIDS virus which is very dangerous and causes blindness, after which the patient might live between six to 12 months, but that is changing now due to the progress in the treatment of the virus achieved in the past four years," Akeel said.

HIV, which causes AIDS, is commonly transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids.

"The partners of AIDS patients, whether men or a women, should be fully aware of the consequences in the future," Akeel said.