By Courtney Trenwith
A support group in the kingdom has married-off 140 people with AIDS, says it has 50 on a waiting list
Five healthy Saudi women have agreed to marry men who have AIDS as part of a support group’s efforts to partner-up infected people, according to a local newspaper.
The Saudi Society for Combating AIDS in Jeddah has helped 140 men and women with the fatal disease to marry and there are another 50 on the waiting list, the Saudi Gazette said.
Executive director of the society, Mousa Hayazea, described the young women’s decision to marry men who would ultimate die as “adventurous”.
The marriages only would go ahead with the approval of their parents, he said.
Arranged marriages are common in the conservative Islamic kingdom, where being single or divorced can be difficult, particularly for women.
Hayazea said many of the women offering to marry men with AIDS were divorced.
There also is a significant social stigma around having AIDS, which prevents most patients from marrying or getting a job.
Hayazea said 95 percent of the marriages arranged with the AIDS sufferers had been successful and the couples were leading a “stable life”.
“Many of these patients object to marrying young women registered with the society because of their age, nationality or social status because the majority of the women are divorcees,” he was quoted as saying.
Wow this very unique for this part of the world. It is about time that the stigma disappears on AIDS sufferers. With the right medication they can lead a normal and long life like everybody else. At the moment there are worst diseases and viruses that destroy humans and need sufficient attention instead of alienating AIDS patients.
I definitely agree that this is a very forward looking, ambitious initiative that addresses the needs of multiple groups of individuals. While I was surprised to hear of such an initiative at all, coming from Saudi Arabia was even more so. A fear of AIDS persists (and probably always will) however I do not think the stigma of AIDS is actually the problem. Even though HIV can be contracted a dozen different ways, the top two methods of HIV transmission around the world are still intravenous drug users and intercourse between same-sex partners. It is these stigma's that make it very difficult for ultra-conservative societies (and some more liberal ones as well) to accept infected people.
I applaud this group of strong, fearless people that are set on making a positive difference in this world. Not only does it offer hope to many people, I believe it may also help erase some of the unfair bias' & prejudices that many people have of Muslim countries.