Morbidity Data Internationally and in Israel
Reports of international health organizations indicate that some 2.3 million people contracted the virus in 2012, and in total at the end of 2012 there were some 35.3 million people living with the virus.
In Israel, from 1981 through to the end of 2012, 7,517 new cases of HIV carriers and AIDS patients were diagnosed. Of these, 1,460 individuals are known to have died or left the country. As of the end of 2012, there are, therefore, 6,057 persons recorded as living with HIV/AIDS in Israel, and it is estimated that there are currently 8,363 individuals in Israel living with the virus.
487 new cases were reported to the Ministry of Health in 2012. The rate of incidence of HIV/AIDS in Israel in 2012 is 61 new cases per million. This level is lower than what is reported in most Western European and North American countries (but there are large differences between sub-populations within Israel).
Updated Epidemiological Report regarding HIV/AIDS in Israel and information about the disease can be found on the website of The Tuberculosis and AIDS Department.
The System of HIV Diagnosis, Advice and Treatment for Carriers and Patients
Confidential blood tests for the detection of the HIV virus are performed free of charge for anyone who so requests, through the HMO (kupat cholim) clinics, as well as in the AIDS clinics. Starting from July 2013, the responsibility for funding the tests has been conveyed to the HMOs (kupot cholim). In Israel, eight clinics for diagnosis, advice and treatment for HIV carriers and AIDS patients operate, located in central hospitals throughout Israel.
Public Information Campaign for the Overall Population
Every year, a prevention campaign is conducted with the approach of World AIDS Day. This year’s campaign slogan: “No Sex No AIDS! Your safest bet is to abstain completely… But if you insist on sex, then wear a condom!”
The focus is on the importance of the use of condoms as a means of preventing morbidity conveyed through sexual relations.
Men who have Sex with Men (MSM)
The absolute number of men discovered in 2012 to be HIV carriers or AIDS patients, who reported sexual relations with men, is similar to the numbers in previous years. However, in order to significantly reduce the infection rate, this year the Ministry of Health has come out with a cooperative initiative for the prevention and reduction of infection of MSM with AIDS, in conjunction with the Anti-Drug Authority and the Association for LGBT Rights.
A strategic thinking meeting for the prevention of HIV in the gay community in Israel was held on 21-Nov-2013 in the training center at Tel Hashomer Hospital. At this unique meeting, representatives of the Ministry of Health and representatives of most organizations, associations and opinion leaders working in the gay community in Israel convened with the aim of formulating novel strategies to reduce the number of new cases of people becoming infected with HIV in this population, which constitutes approximately 43% of all new carriers who are men in the year 2012.
The convening of this meeting indicates the high importance of the issue of dealing with new HIV infection in MSM and of mobilizing cooperation between the parties for this objective.
Injection Drug Users – Syringe Exchange Program in Israel
The use of injection drugs constitutes a significant risk factor for becoming infected with viruses transmitted via blood, such as HIV as well as viral hepatitis type B and C. The modes of behavior linked to injection drug users include shared use of needles and injection accessories, and unprotected sexual relations. The syringe exchange program (“Izhar”) in its current form has been continuing for several years, and includes five distribution centers throughout Israel. Thousands of syringes and needles are exchanged at the centers every year, and condoms are distributed.
Migrants Lacking Legal Status / Health Insurance
Israel in recent years has become a magnet for migrants and asylum seekers, most of whom lack health insurance. In Israel, there is therefore a large population from HIV endemic countries for whom medical treatment for HIV is not accessible. Between the years 2008-2012, an increase has been seen in the number of new cases of HIV reported in the the non-Israeli citizen population. From 67 cases in 2008 to 132 cases in 2012.
The Ministry of Health and additional government elements in cooperation with non-government elements are working to try to build a program for an appropriate medical response to the issue of medical monitoring and drug treatment for HIV carriers who lack medical insurance. This joint initiative brings together government elements, AIDS clinics, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), pharmaceutical companies and other commercial companies. A conference on this topic was held on 25-Nov-2013.
Immigrants from Endemic Countries
Since the 90’s, an intervention program in the Ethiopian community has been operated by the Health Promotion Department:
- Program for the Population of Carriers and Patients – Coordinators who accompany patients and carriers and intercede between them and the treating staff, AIDS clinics and additional institutions that provide assistance.
- Prevention of Transmission of the Virus to the Healthy Population – Varied educational and preventative activities are held in immigrant clusters.