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Israeli Consulates Now Require Some Visitors to Take Aids Test

July 8, 1992
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israeli consulates in a number of foreign locations have begun asking visa applicants planning on extended stays in Israel to be screened for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Consulates in the Far East, Eastern Europe and Africa are requiring that HIV antibody testing be done before applicants are allowed into Israel for long visits.

And officials say the screening policy may soon be extended to other locations, or possibly to all foreign nationals wishing to stay here for extended periods.

The program to limit the spread of AIDS in Israel was disclosed Monday by Dr. Moshe Mashiach, director general of Israel’s Health Ministry, during a news conference at Ben-Gurion Airport.

The briefing was called to introduce an AIDS information display designed to inform Israeli travelers of the dangers of HIV infection abroad.

The display, which will be posted at the entrance of the airport’s duty free shop, is directed toward the growing number of young Israelis departing on what has become a virtual rite of passage for those completing their military service: a backpacking trip abroad, usually to an exotic destination in the Far East or South America.

Mashiach said that “with our young people going abroad by the thousands, it is crucial that we remind them of the risk of this fatal disease at the crossroads of this departures terminal.”

Health Ministry officials said they were cautiously optimistic about containing the spread of AIDS in Israel. They said that since January, only two new AIDS patients have been admitted to Israeli hospitals.

The officials hope the new foreign testing program and the information campaign for travelers going abroad will help prevent the outbreak of additional cases.

But activists of the Israel AIDS Task Force have criticized the Health Ministry’s approach, saying that time and money would be better spent on a broader local AIDS information program inside the country, especially among young people.

Pointing out that according to Health Ministry figures, there are now 1,000 confirmed carriers of HIV in Israel, the activists said the government should be trying to heighten awareness of how to prevent disease transmission.

The group also criticized the testing program at diplomatic missions abroad, which it called a “selection process with scary historical precedents and a violation of individual rights.”

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