The Saudi Arabian National Human Rights Society recently published on its Web site recommendations for a patient's bill of rights for HIV-positive people in an effort to encourage the government to establish a set of regulations to handle HIV/AIDS, the Khaleej Times reports. The recommendations consist of 16 articles and call on the government to develop HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns to ensure that people living with the disease are treated fairly. They also urge the government to establish a national AIDS center to collect data on HIV prevalence in the country.
The society has suggested a fine of 5,000 Saudi riyals, or about $1,300, and up to three years in prison for individuals who discriminate against HIV-positive people by firing them or expelling them from schools. The recommendations state that HIV-positive Saudis should be guaranteed job security unless they have purposefully attempted to spread the virus. Employers should offer another position to HIV-positive people whose jobs pose risks to other employees, according to the society. If it is not possible to transfer the person to another position, the employer should lay off the HIV-positive person and provide a severance package of two-thirds of his or her annual salary, the recommendations state.
The recommendations were developed at a series of workshops and meetings with HIV-positive people living in Saudi Arabia and their doctors, NHRS President Bandar Al-Hajjar said. "We determined that there must be a clear system that watches out for [HIV-positive people's] rights as well as their obligations toward society," Al-Hajjar said, adding, "These patients must continue to live their lives normally and receive proper treatment." The society will seek feedback on the recommendations from NHRS members before submitting a final draft to the Saudi Ministry of Health, the Times reports (Shaikh, Khaleej Times, 8/3).
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