JERUSALEM (Dec. 11)
The number of cases of acquired immune deficiency syndrome in Israel has increased dramatically in recent years, though the Jewish state still has one of the lowest incidences of the disease in the Western world, a Knesset panel was told last week.
Dr. Moshe Mashiach, director general of the Health Ministry, told members of the Knesset Labor and Social Services Committee there have been 137 diagnosed cases of AIDS in Israel to date. Eighty patients have died, 76 of them men.
Professor Ze’ev Hendzel, chairman of the National Committee for the Prevention of AIDS, said that in Israel there were presently about 2,000 carriers of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. He said about 80 percent of them would come down with the deadly disease within 12 years.
Hendzel called for significant increases of government funding for both education about the disease and treatment for those infected.
Committee Chairwoman Ora Namir of the Labor Party and several of her colleagues recommended testing new immigrants for the HIV virus. But they were firmly against singling out immigrants from Ethiopia, where AIDS is rampant.
According to a report in the Jerusalem newspaper Kol Ha’ir, random testing of a single planeload of Ethiopian immigrants found 12 percent infected with HIV.
But committee members said that if Ethiopian olim were tested, American immigrants should be too, since the AIDS rate in the United States is also much higher than in Israel.