Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat – In an initiative aimed at supporting individuals suffering from AIDS and improving their condition, the Islamic Relief Organization has decided to provide financial assistance to 22 individuals who are unable to work, ranging between 1000 and 2000 SR per month.
Despite Saudi laws not discriminating against AIDS sufferers and not barring them from employment, except from some medical posts, these individuals are often unfairly treated and unable to obtain work, due to the lack of awareness regarding the disease. .
Dr. Sanaa Falmban, director of King Saud hospital and coordination of the national program for AIDS told Asharq al Awsat the latest initiative followed an in-depth study of AIDS sufferers through confidential questionnaires, in order to better understand their social conditions.
Dr. Falmban also revealed that the Organization supported the AIDS program last year and made it possible for sufferers to undertake the hajj (pilgrimage). This “important” step allowed AIDS sufferers to gain self-confidence and demonstrated they can lead a normal life and fulfill their religious obligations like other members of Saudi society.
Saudi businessmen and wealthy philanthropists should be encouraged to adopt the AIDS program and help raise awareness in society, in order to employ individuals suffering form AIDS in civil and government institutions and help those in need, Dr. Falmban added.
For his part, Faris al Zahrani, a social researcher at the International Relief Organization, said coordination with Dr. Falmban had began earlier in order to compile information about AIDS suffers, in complete confidentiality, to understand how best to help them. More individuals will receive financial aid, he vowed.
In March, the Saudi health ministry announced it had created a working group to set up and implement a national awareness campaign aimed at confronting AIDS and breaking the wall of secrecy surrounding the virus in Saudi Arabia, through a comprehensive plan that highlights all social, religious and health considerations related to the virus and prevention methods.