Two brothers who are pioneers in the prevention of HIV transmission in Iran have been held by the authorities without charge for nearly a month.

Arash and Kamyar Alaei, both doctors, should be released immediately, said New York-based Human Rights Watch.

The Iranian authorities have not made any public statements about where they are being held, or why.

It is unknown if they will face any charges.

“For more than 20 years, the Alaei brothers have been active in addressing problems relating to drug use, with a focus on the spread of HIV/AIDS, and have played a key role in putting these issues on the national health care agenda,” HRW said in a statement.

“They have worked closely with government and religious leaders to ensure support for education campaigns on HIV transmission, including those targeting youth, and for HIV and harm reduction programs in prisons.

“Neither of the men is known to have any involvement in political activities.

“Iran is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and as such has strict legal obligations not to carry out arbitrary arrests or detention and to afford due process rights including the prompt provision of reasons for an arrest and any charges which will be brought, access to counsel, and the right to be brought before a judicial officer to determine the legality of the detention to anyone detained.”

The Alaei brothers were a driving force behind Iran’s first AIDS awareness handbook in 2006, negotiating the religious and cultural sensitivities around sex and drugs to produce materials that help save lives.

For more information about the brochure and AIDS prevention in Iran click here.