Arab Nations' Health Officials Meet to Combat Taboo of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
May 24, 2005
Today in Tunis, officials from a dozen Arab nations gathered for a conference on STDs. Organizers said STDs infect 20 Arabs every minute. Organized by the International Federation of Family Planning (IFFP) and the UN, the four-day meeting is designed to support groups that are working to raise STD awareness and offer treatment. Statistics released at the conference show women are most affected by STDs, highlighting the need to reform reproductive health programs throughout the Arab world.
The meeting will also address the spread of HIV due to "poverty, drugs, and war," said Tunisia's Dr. Moncef Ben Ibrahim, who runs IFFP's Arab regional office. Currently, Sudan has some 400,000 AIDS cases; Morocco has 15,000. By opening "health centers for young people where teenagers can come and talk about their concerns," Morocco is taking steps to fight the disease, said Dr. Gozlene Ritimi of the Moroccan association for family planning.
Still, many Arabs continue to have unprotected sex and refuse to admit they are HIV-positive, noted session organizer Dr. Majdi Khaled.
The conference aims to find ways to curb the spread of STDs while acknowledging Arab moral and religious values, which have been a hurdle to establishing preventative programs in Arab countries, said organizers.
Agence France Presse
Officials Discuss Increasing HIV/AIDS Incidence Among Women in Middle East, North Africa, Call for Action
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.