SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC. Order No. 17/T of 30 March 1991 of the Ministry of Health. (Recueil des Lois et de la Législation Financière de la République Arabe Syrienne, April-May 1991, pp. 36-42, as translated in International Digest of Health Legislation, Vol. 45, No. 2, 1994, pp. 174-175.)
This Order has been made by the Minister of Health and repeals Orders No. 27/T of 28 July 1987 prescribing protective measures against AIDS and No. 36/T of 26 October 1987. The following are among the principal provisions.
Under Sec. 1, the following persons are required to undergo testing for HIV infection before blood transfusion can be authorized: blood donors, prior to each donation; aliens between 12-70 years of age who wish to reside in the Syrian Arab Republic; hemophiliacs, of any nationality; Syrian citizens who have been abroad on a mission for a period of more than three months; and any person suspected of having been exposed to HIV, who is referred to a laboratory by a physician, or who goes independently to a laboratory. Aliens who have been resident in the Republic for more than five years and wishing to marry a Syrian citizen are exempt from testing, provided that they have not left the country for a continuous period of more than three months during their last five years of residence. The Director of the AIDS Control Programme of the Ministry of Health and the various authorities concerned are to cooperate in the implementation of this Section. Persons may be tested for personal reasons, such as a visit to a country requiring certification of the absence of AIDS; in such cases, the persons concerned are required to report to a laboratory approved by the Ministry.
Sec. 2 lays down that testing may only be carried out by laboratories approved for the purpose by the Ministry. Laboratory reports, which are restricted to the laboratories concerned, are valid for a three-month period following the taking of a blood sample from the person in question. Experts from the international organizations of the United Nations system, as well as other persons with diplomatic immunity, are exempt from testing, irrespective of the length of their stay in the Republic. The categories exempted from testing are determined by the Minister.
Sec. 3 lays down that, with the exception of certain categories of residents (as defined), testing of the persons referred to in Sec. 1 is to be carried out free of charge, provided that such testing is in the interest of public health.
Under Sec. 4, the person in charge of an approved laboratory is required: (1) to communicate without delay, and on a confidential basis, positive results in initial confirmatory tests to the AIDS Reference Laboratory of the Ministry; (2) to notify confirmed cases of seropositivity, requiring a further test after a specified period, to the Director of the AIDS Control Programme, the Chief of the Department of Epidemiological Studies on Communicable Diseases, and the Chief of the Department of AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, within the Directorate of Primary Health Care; (3) to submit a confidential monthly report on the laboratory's activities to the Chief of the Reference Laboratory; and (4) to ensure the confidentiality of data relating to persons who have undergone tests and of the results of these tests. The corresponding obligations of the AIDS Reference Laboratory and its Director are indicated in Sec. 5. Sec. 6 indicates the procedures for validating certificates confirming that the persons are not infected.
Sec. 7 lays down that, in the event of a confirmed diagnosis of HIV infection, the following measures must be taken: (1) an epidemiological study team interviews the person concerned, with a view to determining the origin of the infection and the risk of its transmission to other persons; and (2) a psychological counseling team interviews the person concerned with the aim of helping him to deal with the social problems related to his state of health and informing him of the means for preventing the transmission of infection to other persons and the occurrence of opportunistic conditions in his own case.
Under Sec. 8, any person in whom HIV infection is confirmed is required to cooperate with the teams referred to in Sec. 7 and to comply with the prescribed measures; in the event of non-compliance he is liable to isolation and proceedings. If the person concerned is not of Syrian nationality, cooperation must be instituted with his country's embassy and the competent authorities, with a view to ensuring his repatriation. Under Sec. 9, no authorities may take measures in respect of HIV-infected persons other than those laid down by this Order before such measures have been submitted for the approval of the National Aids Control Committee. Sec. 10 imposes an obligation on all staff involved in AIDS control to ensure the confidentiality of data and results of which they become aware in the course of their professional activities, and to communicate such information only to persons directly involved, in the interests of respecting the patient; any persons contravening these provisions are liable to penalties.