• This report also in Arabic.

(February 2007) This policy brief helps raise awareness among decisionmakers in the Middle East and North Africa about the urgent need for action by presenting some HIV/AIDS warning signs, risks, and vulnerabilities in the region. The number of people living with HIV/AIDS in MENA is low but increasing in every country in the region.

MENA’s conservative culture, in which sexual relationships outside marriage are forbidden, has been partly responsible for keeping the rates of HIV infection relatively low. The same conservative norms, however, often contribute to a general attitude of denial, combined with strong stigmatization and social ostracism of people living with HIV/AIDS. Because HIV infection is concentrated for now among people who are often perceived as socially deviant, the AIDS epidemic has been shrouded in ignorance, and that ignorance does not help prevent the spread of the infection.

This policy brief was written by Farzaneh (Nazy) Roudi-Fahimi of PRB.