The Middle East is coping with an unexpectedly sharp increase in the number of AIDS cases.
A new report warned that the spread of AIDS has been most prominent in
the eastern Mediterranean. The report by the World Health Organization said
750,000 people in the region have been infected.
The WHO reported 12,079 confirmed cases of AIDS in the Eastern
Mediterranean region in 2002. The agency said it found 83,000 new cases.
The report also said that nearly every state in the Persian Gulf region
has been struck by AIDS. The WHO said at least 1,000 HIV positive cases were
reported in virtually every Gulf state.
"Almost every country in the Gulf region has a minimum of 1,000 cases of
people who are HIV positive," Dr Hussain Gezairy, WHO regional director for
the Eastern Mediterranean, told a seminar in Abu Dhabi.
"The actual number of people carrying the virus is unknown," Gezairy
said. "But it is estimated to be 750,000, approximately 58,000 people died
of the infection in 2001."
The WHO cited the unexpected growth of AIDS in the Middle East to
use as well as the spread of the disease in prisons. The agency said two
percent of a sample of 200 prisoners in Sudan carried the AIDS virus. The
figure among prisoners in Yemen was three percent and in Iran eight
The report said the AIDS virus has spread rapidly in such Arab League
states as Djibouti and Sudan. Six percent of young people in Djibouti have
been diagnosed as HIV as well as 450,000 in Sudan.