Objective: To study trends in HIV case notification rates in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Design: A ten year retrospective review of annual HIV case notification returns to the Ministry of Health, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Methods: Annual Registry statistics covering the period 2000 to 2009 were reviewed. Annual incidence trends were stratified according to the following demographics: age, nationality, geographical region of residence, gender, and mode of disease acquisition.
Results: 10,217 new HIV cases (2,956 in Saudi nationals and 7,261 in non-Saudis) were reported. Africans of Sub-Saharan Africa origin accounting for 3,982/7,261 (53%) of non-Saudi cases constituted: Ethiopians (2,271), Nigerians (1,048), and Sudanese nationals (663). The overall average annual incidence was <4 cases per 100,000; 1.5 cases per 100,000 for Saudis (range 0.5-2.5), and 13.2 per 100,000 for non-Saudis (range 5.7-19.0). Notifications increased yearly from 2000 for both groups until a plateau was reached in 2006 at 1,390 new cases. Case notification in Saudi nationals increased from 20% in the early 2001 to 40% in 2009. 4% (124/2,956) of cases were reported in Saudi children. The male to female ratio was 1.6:1 for non-Saudi nationals (43.8% male, 27.3% female) and 4.4:1 for Saudis (23.5% male, 5.4% female).
Conclusions: Whilst the numbers of reported HIV cases have stabilised since 2006, HIV/AIDS remains an important public health problem in KSA, both in migrants and Saudi nationals. HIV transmission to Saudi children is also of concern. Optimization of data collection, surveillance, and pro-active screening for HIV is required.