Future Saudi Couples to Undergo Pre-marital Test for HIV, Hepatitis

by VR Sreeraman on Aug 30 2007 3:57 PM

Couples wanting to marry in Muslim conservative Saudi Arabia will have to undergo tests for the HIV virus, which can cause AIDS, starting next year, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

From 2008, future brides and grooms will have to be tested for both the virus and hepatitis in one of more than 20 centres to be set up across the kingdom, Al-Watan said, quoting the health ministry's assistant under-secretary for preventive medicine, Khaled al-Zahrani.

If either of them tests HIV positive and they still want to marry, the case will be examined in conjunction with the justice ministry, Zahrani said, without elaborating.

Nearly 11,000 cases of HIV/AIDS were reported in Saudi Arabia between 1984, when the first case was diagnosed, and the end of 2005, according to a health ministry official.

Of the 10,924 cases diagnosed, Saudis numbered 2,005 and expatriates 8,919, the official said in November 2005.