Public health, not politics Sir, – The Health Ministry said earlier this week that 6,140 Israelis had been diagnosed as having HIV/AIDS. This represents about a 10 percent increase over the past two years, with best estimates that that an equal number of people remain undiagnosed.Current AIDS policies in Israel will do nothing to reduce the number of HIV infections unless confidential mandatory testing, mandatory partner tracing and notification, and mandatory treatment are invoked. Confidential mandatory testing is already enforced in the military, at blood banks and by the insurance industry, but not in the general population. How, when and where mandatory testing is carried out will be determined by the ministry, but until that happens, the epidemic will continue to rage out of control because far too many people infected with HIV – about 20% – are unaware and may unknowingly transmit the virus. Isn’t it time to place public health over politics and treat HIV/AIDS just like every other serious infectious disease?
SANFORD F. KUVIN, MD Jerusalem The writer is founder and international chair of the Sanford Kuvin Center for Infectious and Tropical Diseases of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Editor’s note: The article the writer is referring to is “Health Ministry: 6,140 Israelis have AIDS” (July 20). The headline should have said that these Israelis have HIV/AIDS.
Serving survivors, too Sir, – I was most surprised to read the op-ed piece “Scandal at the Claims Conference” by Isi Leibler (July 13). The writer notes that the activities of the Yiddishpiel Theater are incompatible with the purposes for which the Claims Conference was established.In my discussion with the writer I understood that if only he had before him the facts on the Yiddishpiel Theater’s unique and exclusive activities for Holocaust survivors, he would have seen in it a shining example of funding of activities that are definitely within the Claims Conference’s definitions.Although the Yiddishpiel Theater is, for all matters, a repertoire theater receiving financing from various sources, it receives such from the Claims Conference for two important projects. The first involves performances for Holocaust survivors in old-age and nursing homes. The second involves funding to enable survivors who are mobile to come to regular performances at no charge.The many thank-you letters we receive underscore the fact that aside from economic and physical support, Holocaust survivors also need spiritual and cultural nourishment.The Yiddishpiel Theater brings them a most meaningful and invaluable experience: a remembrance and taste of their parents’ home, of the good old days before the war. Many find this gives them the will to go on living.The Yiddishpiel Theater views the Claims Conference as a full partner in all its wonderful activities on behalf of Holocaust survivors. For this it is to be blessed.
SHMUEL ATZMON-WIRTZER CEO and Artistic Manager Yiddishpiel Theater