A new agreement with the United Nations makes Israel an official "contributing nation" to the UN’s efforts to fight AIDS.

 Israel joins the UNAIDS effort in Africa

 

Agreement signing ceremony in Geneva (Photo: MFA)

By Rivka Borochov
 
Through Israeli circumcision operations, thousands of African men have improved their chance of reaching old age by 60 percent. This ancient Jewish ritual has proven to reduce the AIDS/HIV epidemic considerably, and Jewish Israeli expertise is transferring this public health tool to Africa. Now a new agreement with the United Nations makes Israel an official "contributing nation" to the UN’s efforts to fight the deadly disease. Israel’s Health and Foreign ministries will earmark an initial fund totaling $250,000 toward a special task force called UNAIDS.

The agreement was signed in April by Aharon Leshno Yaar, Israel’s ambassador to UN institutions in Geneva, to battle an infectious disease that knows no political borders and has killed millions of people in Africa over the last 30 years. With lack of access to anti-viral medications, or refrigerators to keep the medication effective, African nations are overwhelmed by the rate of AIDS-related deaths, and the millions of orphans the virus has created.

This development exemplifies Israel’s commitment to providing foreign aid, and also gives credence to the work of hundreds of Israeli volunteers who have been educating South Americans in AIDS prevention for more than two decades.

 Israel joins the UNAIDS effort in Africa

Hanni Rosenberg of the Jerusalem AIDS Project training teachers in AIDS prevention in
Latin America (Photo: Pierre Virot/UNAIDS)

Israel’s involvement dates from 1988, when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs enlisted MASHAV, its center for international cooperation, to work with the organization to implement AIDS education in Latin America, starting with Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Peru, and later on Argentina and Brazil.