- Published on 13 December 2012
Saudi Arabia reports that Amphetamines are the main drugs used in the country. Opioid abuse also exists and accounts for around 8% of treatment demand (UNODC, 2011). No reports are available on the size and patterns of injecting drug use in the country. Residential rehabilitation and inpatient detoxification are the main treatment services for drug use disorders in the country (Saudi Arabia MoH, 2010, 2012). Halfway Houses also exist in three cities and provide support after patients are released from rehabilitation centers (Saudi Arabia MoH, 2012).
Saudi Arabia has a low HIV prevalence in the general population. Almost all the information available on HIV surveillance on accessible at risk groups, including sexually transmitted infections (STI) clinic attendees, prisoners and PWIDs in rehabilitation centers has also showed a low prevalence (Saudi Arabia MoH, 2012). Most infections are identified as being sexually transmitted. In 2008, 9% of HIV identified cases were injecting drug users (Saudi Arabia MoH, 2010). In recent years, HIV testing on thousands of PWIDs in treatment facilities have been carried out and have showed a prevalence of less than 1% (Saudi Arabia MoH, 2010, 2012), excluding a study on 111 PWIDs in a large detoxification center in the years 2010-11, in which a prevalence of 8.1% was found (Saudi Arabia MoH, 2012). No data is available on risk behaviors of drug users, but a qualitative study is being planned on this issue (Saudi Arabia MoH, 2012).
The country is improving the HIV prevention, treatment and care services. VCT has been expanded through static and mobile clinics over the country, the service has been integrated in the different types of health facilities and ongoing training is provided to health care workers on testing and counseling (Saudi Arabia MoH, 2012). Almost all detected cases that are eligible for treatment are receiving ART (Saudi Arabia MoH, 2012). NGOs, CSOs and PLHIV support groups are actively providing social and financial support for PLHIV (Saudi Arabia MoH, 2012). However, specific HIV prevention for MARPs is not available as sex work and sex with same sex are extremely hidden behaviors and very hard to access. These behaviors are criminalized and a very high stigma is attached to MARPs. NSP and condom distribution are not available, neither is oral substitution therapy. Although legal obstacles to OST for PWIDs were removed several years ago (Saudi Arabia MoH, 2012). HIV prevention interventions for drug users in treatment facilities are not reported. According to the overall conservative socio-cultural atmosphere and policy in the country, accessing, assessing and addressing most at risk groups remains a major challenge for the National AIDS Program.