JERUSALEM (Dec. 7)
The Health Ministry has set up seven blood testing centers around the country to check for AIDS–Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome–which can be transmitted through blood transfusions. To date, 33 cases of AIDS have been diagnosed in Israel, of which 17 were fatal according to Ministry figures.
Dr. Moshe Mashiach of the Health Ministry said 20 of the diagnosed patients were homosexuals, 10 were hemophiliacs, one an intravenous drug user, and two others were infected by transfusions of contaminated blood. Blood donated for transfusions has been screened for AIDS since the beginning of the year.
So far, 10 samples were found to have the AIDS antibodies and the donors have been located and asked to undergo further tests. Mashiach pointed out that the presence of the antibody does not necessarily mean the carrier has the disease. But the checking process has spared at least 30 transfusion recipients from exposure to it.
Apart from homosexuals, few persons have availed themselves of the free blood testing service. The government’s Special AIDS Policy Committee, which initiated the program, has recommended that the testing centers accept anyone producing an identification card without need for referral by a doctor.
Meanwhile, the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot reported over the weekend that its scientists have developed a substance which may be useful in fighting AIDS. The deliberately cautious statement said the new drug is being tested at Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot.