New cases of HIV carriers in Israel on a slow decline

Poll for World AIDS Day shows 65% of Israelis have never undergone an HIV test.

World AIDS Day (photo credit: Courtesy)
World AIDS Day
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Although men who have sex with men constitute the largest group of Israelis who are HIV carriers, the number of new patients among them declined slightly from 163 in 2013 to 148 last year – but this was too small a change to show a trend, according to the Health Ministry.
A total of 8,448 HIV carriers were reported in Israel between 1981 and 2014, 23.9 percent of them male homosexuals.
In 2014, 43.8% of all men who were reported as new carriers were homosexuals.
A total of 467 new cases of HIV infection were reported in 2014 compared to 470 in the previous year.
World AIDS Day will be marked in Israel and around the globe on Tuesday, December 1.
In 2014, the ministry introduced a “new kind” of program to fight the spread of the AIDS virus, providing epidemiological and clinical knowledge and financial resources, while leaving responsibility for the distribution of condoms, conducting HIV tests and giving social and emotional support to the Israel AIDS Task Force (IATF).
Dr. Daniel Chemtob, head of the ministry’s TB and AIDS department, said that preventing AIDS has to be a central target for the community and homosexuals in particular.
Mandy Michaeli, head of an organization of teenage homosexuals, said that adolescents are at the highest risk today of getting infected due to having unprotected sex, often under the persuasion of adults.
Dr. Yuval Livnat, director of the IATF, said he is happy that his organization has reached the highest-ever figure of HIV testing and the number of condoms distributed in the past year.
Other communities that are infected are users of injected hard drugs and hetereosexual men and women.
Sixty-five percent of secular and traditional Israelis have never undergone an HIV test, according to a survey carried out by the Israel AIDS Task Force to mark World AIDS Day.
The poll, by the TAK Growth Strategies Institute of a representative sample of 500 adults, found that Israelis lose their virginity at an average age of 18.6 years, with men having sex at age 18.3 and women at 19.
A small minority of 0.14% have sex for the first time at age 11, while 0.9% at 27 years old or above.
Most women think it is the parents’ responsibility to discuss sex with their children – but men believe it is the school’s responsibility.
Only one percent said religious figures should talk to them, while 2% said the children’s “older siblings” should do it.
Forty-seven percent of those polled said they had not spoken to their children or did not intend to speak to their children about sex.
Forty-three percent of young people in the north of the country had sex for the first time before the age of 18, while in the south, the rate was 37.8 and 35.6% in the Dan Region.
No figures were given for the more-traditional Jerusalem region.
Just 55.2% of those having sex for the first time said in the anonymous poll that they had used a condom; a figure that shows a high risk of getting sexual diseases like HIV and of possible pregnancy.
In the South, they are least careful, while they are most careful in the Sharon region.
The highly educated were the most careful of all.
Just 48% of those who said they had or were ready to have an HIV test would/ did go to their health fund, while 39% said they would/ did go for anonymous testing the rest at a hospital testing center.
Surprisingly, asked whether they would blame an HIV carrier who identified himself/ herself as such and still had unprotected sex with him/her, 71.6% said the carrier should not be blamed or punished.
Men were less forgiving than women when asked if the carrier should be punished.
The vast majority of those queries (92%) said that anybody should be allowed to obtain the anti-HIV “cocktail” of drugs that usually makes HIV a chronic rather than deadly disease, while 48% said the state should pay fully or partially for the drugs. Today, the cocktail – which costs NIS 3,000 a month – cannot be purchased privately but only through the public health system.
Meanwhile, UNAIDS said that the number of people infected with HIV has passed its peak, but 22 million people still do not have access to treatment, most of whom do not know they have been infected with the virus.