Abu Dhabi: Medical experts have advised couples planning to get married to get themselves screened at one of the Disease and Preventive Screening Centres in the national capital at least 24 hours before their wedding day.

Expatriates and Emiratis are required to submit to pre-marital health tests before getting married.

Dr Zainab Al Khazaal, Director of Preventive Medicine Department, told Gulf News that the screening process in Abu Dhabi covers HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B.

"We have never received any positive HIV cases, but there have been numerous cases of hepatitis B. If any of the partners tests positive for the disease, we inform the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) and Ministry of Health. The other partner is given a Hepatitis B vaccination and the couple is offered counselling," she said.

"Whether they choose to continue with their marriage plans is none of our business, but it is our responsibility to find out whether the person with hepatitis B is in an acute [active carrier who can infect others] or chronic stage, which means there is damage caused to the liver and greater chances of infecting a partner."

However, an official from the Ministry of Health confirmed that pre-marital medical examinations in the UAE, excluding the HAAD, include blood group tests, sick cell anaemia, hepatitis B and C, German measles, haemoglobin variance, HIV/AIDS, thalassaemia, and syphilis.

The official added: "We expect Abu Dhabi to implement our updated regulations soon. When they do it is up to the HAAD."

Dr. Noura Al Suwaidi, in charge of premarital screening regulations at the health ministry confirmed that the pre-marital medical examination has not changed since March 2008. She refused to give further details.