Durex condom 150.
(photo credit: courtesy Health Ministry)
The Health Ministry – which is led by an ultra-Orthodox rabbi from a hassidic sect that doesn’t even mention the word condom – is openly encouraging high-risk men to use them.
Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) has never endorsed condom use to prevent the transmission of AIDS.
The reasons for the ministry recommendation is that in 2017, the number of new reported HIV carriers increased to 405, from just 361 in 2016 – after consecutive years of a decline in the number of new carriers (409 in 2015, 459 in 2014 and 461 in 2013).
The ministry said that the increase is concentrated mainly in the risk group of men who have sex with men (from 127 new cases reported in 2016 to 146 last year). This group also tends to have many partners and is less likely to practice safe sex.
The ministry’s TB and AIDS department, together with voluntary associations like the Israel AIDS Task Force and Gay Youth, said it is working hard to prevent new infections among homosexuals. The programs include encouraging HIV testing and condom distribution according to international recommendations, including the World Health Organization.
Towards the end of last year, these bodies have made more accessible preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP, or the use of anti-HIV medications to keep HIV-negative people from becoming infected). “But,” concluded the ministry, “it is important to emphasize that this treatment is not a substitute for safe sexual behavior by using a condom and that at the upcoming Gay Pride event, emphasis be placed on safe sex and personal and communal responsibility.”