December 1, 2011
Ahead of World AIDS Day, Israel's Health Ministry released new HIV data showing a "dramatic increase" in cases among gay men. Among the 420 newly diagnosed patients countrywide in 2010, 148 were men who have sex with men, the ministry said. That represents a four-fold increase over figures for HIV-infected men in 2000.
The 2010 data found that one-fifth of the 2,000 gay men who participated in a study did not use condoms during the past six months, the same rate as in 2000.
The Health Ministry stressed the importance of promoting condom use, especially on gay-related websites. Israel is considering subsidizing HIV medication costs for immigrants who lack health insurance as well as for illegal immigrants.
The country is now in its fifth year operating a needle-exchange program as a way to control the spread of blood-borne infections like HIV and hepatitis B and C. There are five such exchanges across Israel.
Rapid HIV testing is available at the ministry's sex clinics, Open House in Jerusalem and Israel AIDS Task Force (IATF)'s clinic. On Dec. 1, World AIDS Day, volunteers and AIDS providers from Haifa are offering HIV testing, information, and condoms at nearby Israel Railways stations.
On Friday, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and IATF, among other groups, will conduct free tests at the Dizengoff Center, Tel Aviv; an ID card is required.