ISRAEL:  Status of HIV/AIDS: Epidemiology and Treatment

The number of reported HIV carriers in the Middle East has doubled over the past two years to 192,000. AIDS has yet to become widespread in the Middle East, but the pace of its transmission is alarming. The World Health Organization reports HIV carriers in the region have doubled over the past two years to 192,000 and 10,000 people died from AIDS in 1995 only.

Statistics issued by the Israeli Health Ministry show that there are only 1,425 known cases of AIDS in Israel, which has a population of 5.7 million. In the Palestinian self-rule areas, there have been only 28 reported cases of full-blown AIDS since 1981, according to Eyad Arafe, an expert from the PA Health Ministry's Department of Preventive Medicine. Israel, like most other Middle Eastern countries, now require immigrants from Western nations and all foreign workers to be tested for HIV before entering the country. Those who test positive will be expelled as they pose "to be a public health hazard" to the country.

The most publicity regarding HIV/AIDS and Israel has been linked to the immigration of 25,000 Ethiopians to Israel three years ago. In February of 1996, a scandal broke out in the discovery that the Israeli Health Ministry had been dumping blood donated by Ethiopian immigrants. The controversy prompted violent riots by 20,000 Ethiopians in Jerusalem who took the actions of the Health Ministry as a blow to their developing sense of national identity. In the health field, while AIDS tests performed secretly on the 20,000 new Ethiopian immigrants who arrived here in 1991 revealed a 2 percent rate of infection, little was done to subsequently educate the community-at-large about AIDS prevention, critics say. The dumping was hidden by officials who claimed they were attempting to minimize the spread of AIDS by eliminating the supplies from high-risk populations.

Ethiopian Blood Controversy:
Strain on Israeli-African Relations

Prevention & Education:
An Israeli company has indicated that it had been issued a patent for a blood diagnosis device that detects the HIV virus far earlier than conventional methods and could play a key role in limiting the spread of AIDS. Shiloov Medical Technologies Ltd said its ShiloovTube helps detect the presence of HIV antibodies in a patient's blood by accelerating their development in as little as one to two weeks after exposure. In nature, antibodies can take six months or longer to develop in the body after a person is exposed to HIV .

Another major research discovery was made by Israeli, Dr. Zvi Bentwich who found 50 percent of Ethiopians in a study had been exposed to the HIV virus but tested negative for AIDS. It appears their bodies developed an immunity to the disease. Bentwich tracked the health and treatment of all viral carriers from their first day on Jewish soil. In Africa, Ethiopians infected with HIV died two to three times more quickly than those infected in the West. Besides finding that half the Ethiopian Jews were exposed to the virus but did not develop it, he noticed the disease behaved differently in Israel than in Africa. This suggests that environmental factors may affect the course of the illness.

Names Project-Israel
Clinical followup of Ethiopian immigrants
Prevention program for Ethiopian immigrants

The homosexual population in Israel has indicated a very low spread of infection as compared to most other countries. The reason for the low rate is still uncertain. Intravenous drug users have been under particular scrutiny with pre-epidemic infection rates. Israel's geographic centrality presents risks which have led health officials to be attentive to groups which have been of high risk in other nations.

Gay and Lesbian Student Union of the Hebrew University
Haifa Gay Community Home Page

Treatment & Healing:
General Alternative Medicine site
Israeli and Jewish PharMedical Sites

Community Based Organizations:


Hava'ad Lemilehamah B'AIDS
Israel AIDS Task Force
P.O.B. 33602
Tel Aviv 61336

Jewish AIDS network

Jerusalem AIDS Project home page

Jewish Star and AIDS Ribbon Pin