Saudi Arabia

Last updated on: 26 September 2014

Criminalisation of HIV transmission/exposure

Saudi Arabia
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Number of people prosecuted: 
Number of people convicted: 
Applicable law: 

Criminal Code


Saudi Arabia prides itself on its warmth toward Saudi citizens that are infected with HIV or AIDS. They are entitled to free medical care, protection of their privacy, and employment opportunities. The government has set up several hospitals designated to treat those who are infected with HIV/AIDS, but other hospitals refuse to care for such people. Although the government believes that people living with the virus must be treated, it also notes, “When Islam forbids adultery and homosexuality, it does so for the benefit for the human spirit and a person’s welfare and protection.” The country has taken many steps to raise the awareness of HIV and care for people infected by it. In 2008, the Health Minister spent 18 million riyals for those infected. Foreigners, however, must demonstrate that they are not infected with the HIV virus before entering the country. If found positive while in the country, the infected person will be deported; while awaiting deportation, the foreigner is not given any medication for the virus. Though the country is often criticized for its human rights, as Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz stated, “It is absurd to impose on an individual or a society rights that are alien to its beliefs or principles.” Saudi Arabia does not recognize same-sex relationships, and individuals found in same-sex sexual activities will receive capital punishment—the country’s actions are always in accordance with Islamic morality.


Problems for HIV-positive citizen lie in public acceptance. The country has had a growing movement to teach the citizens about HIV/AIDS. Even with public discussions on AIDS at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, the society rejects those individuals with the virus. In 2008, a new law was enacted: all Saudi couples seeking marriage must be tested for HIV/AIDS. With efforts such as this, Saudi Arabia hopes to spread knowledge. Additionally, the country would like to receive funding so HIV/AIDS help can be accessed at all hospitals. The government hopes to encourage citizens to seek medical assistance and ensure to the individual that his privacy is protected.
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Further reading: 

Saudi Women who passed on HIV through sex hunted by police. Two young men contracted virus through illicit sex with Syrian beggars. Habib ToumiBureau Chief, 23 January 2014.

Manama: Police in the southwestern Saudi Arabian province of Asir have launched an investigation to identify foreign women who transmitted HIV to two local young men through sexual relations.

The cases of the men, aged 18 and 25, were discovered when health officials confirmed that they had contracted the virus and were HIV-positive. The pair admitted that they had unprotected sex with Syrian women beggars for money near a public park in the city of Abha, the capital of the province, local news site Sabq reported on Thursday.

The cases sparked an all out alarm to identify and arrest women who had illicit sexual relations in the area, with a focus on women beggars. Several warnings had been issued by the local authorities about the dangers from the spread of the disease and the serious threats it could pose to the population, Sabq said.

In their comments, bloggers called for raising the awareness of young men about the dangers of illicit sexual relations and warning them against engaging in them.
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Other laws and policies with an impact on responses to HIV

Laws and regulations relating to entry, stay or residence in the country: 

Entry regulations: Negative test result required for residence and work permit applicants.      
Residence regulations  : -                          
Additional information: Deportations of people diagnosed with HIV have been reported.

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Laws relating to same sex, sexual relations: 


Same-sex sexual activity legal :   No
(Penalty: Prison sentences of several months to life, fines and/or whipping/flogging, castration, torture, vigilante execution, or death can be sentenced on first conviction. A second conviction merits execution.)


Same-sex marriage :     No


Recognition of same-sex couples:          No



Right to change legal gender:    No

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