Jerusalem will serve as the host city of the next international AIDS education conference, due to take place in November 1995, according to the Jerusalem AIDS Project.
The group made the announcement on Thursday to coincide with international commemorations of World AIDS Day.
AIDS educators and activists in Israel, who have repeatedly warned the public against complacency toward the deadly disease, say they hope that next year’s gathering will boost awareness of AIDS in Israel.
According to Health Ministry figures, 307 Israelis have developed full-blown AIDS since the first case of the disease was recorded about 10 years ago. About two thirds of them have died. There are some 1,226 known individuals with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
But the ministry estimates that the actual number, including those who are afraid to be tested for the disease, is between 2,000 and 2,500.
“Right now, we have small numbers in comparison to other countries, but this is (false) because of collective denial,” AIDS counselor Rachel Hayward told Israel Television.
“There are a lot of people who are probably walking around infected with HIV, but they aren’t getting tested because they are afraid to go somewhere where people might recognize them, or they are afraid to lose their jobs,” she said.
Israel marked World AIDS Day with a number of educational and prevention programs. Information booths were set up around the country, condoms were distributed and free AIDS testing was made available at such places as Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion Airport.