297 Ethiopians Have Aids Virus, Health Ministry Replies to Rumors

A total of 297 of the 40,000 Ethiopian immigrants in Israel have tested positive for infection with the virus that causes AIDS, the Health Ministry said in an effort to dispel rumors of a much higher infection rate.

The ministry is seeking to set the record straight because of “harmful and inaccurate figures” in the media about the incidence of AIDS among Ethiopian Jews, said Health Minister Haim Ramon.

“This is the first and last time we will publish AIDS statistics by ethnic group,” he said.

Of the cases in the Ethiopian community, 200 were registered among the newcomers who arrived with the Operation Solomon airlift of May 1991. The first major wave of Ethiopian immigration reached Israel in 1984 and 1985.

In the general Israeli population, 185 persons are suffering from symptoms of acquired immune deficiency syndrome, he said.

But 6,160 new cases of individuals testing positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, were reported in the first half of this year.

The figure reflects a steady increase in the incidence of those infected with the virus, up from 4,190 in 1990 to more than double that figure, 9,986, the following year.

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