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STUDY: HIV Rate In Israel Skyrockets 55% Since 2005

HIV Test at 12th and Locust StreetsNew figures released by Israel’s Ministry of Health indicate a disheartening 55% increase in HIV infections since 2005.

From 1981 t0 2011 there were 6,579 people in Israel who tested positive for HIV or AIDS, with 1,265 of them gay men. Haaretz reports that there are now an estimated  7,750 people living with HIV in Israel, though a full third of them don’t know it.

The rate of HIV infection among gay Israeli men is 4.5 times  that of  their heterosexual counterparts. The health department—which has increased programs to combat the epidemic—also reports upticks in other STIs among gay men, including gonorrhea and syphillis.

An increase in risky sexual behavior is considered a main culprit in the rise in infections: More than 20% of gay Israeli men reported barebacking. Of the respondents who said they regularly had casual partners, that number jumped to 40%.

Shai Doitsh of the Israeli LGBT group Aguda, told Gay Star News:

The reason to the spike in HIV infection among the community has several factors; Firstly, the transformation of HIV/AIDS into a chronic manageable disease has decreased the fear effect.

Secondly, this is the generation that did not experience the plague… young people that did not witness the eruption of the epidemic and the death of their dear ones.

Thirdly, there is an increase in risk behavior, especially with recreational drugs and unprotected sex.

It’s not clear if perhaps increased awareness and testing have led to an increase in reported cases, rather than actual infections. Let’s hope so.

 

 

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13 Comments

  • bystander

    Is it really so bad the HIV isn’t something to be terrified of anymore. Would we rather have it still be a death sentence just to discourage whats considered “bad” behavior.

  • tardis

    Whoa, those figures are beyond alarming. It seems that HIV isn’t something to be feared of anymore. Seriously, gay/bi me need to exercise caution. HIV can’t be the face of gays. That disease is beyond terrible.

  • Captain proton

    Speaking as a guy from Israel, I can tell you that some guys around here have an amazing way of finding out the status of a one night stand.

    They ask, rather casually, “You’re clean, right?” and upon hearing a “yes” they throw caution (and the condom) to the wind.

    I’ve faced this question a few times myself. usually I feign ignorance and answer that I shower regularly (and either insist on a condom or try to end the encounter then and there)

  • CM79

    @bystander: That kind of an attitude is why HIV infections are on the rise. For as long as HIV and AIDS remains uncured, continues to spread through reckless/ignorant contact, and people continue to die from it, then yes I want it to continue being thought of as a death sentence that everyone should be on alert about — especially since it’s something that can be avoided. Ever since about 2005, the gay community has become increasingly and shockingly blasé about safer sex…while in turn getting on the defensive when others preach about it, as if it’s infringing on peoples sexual liberation and personal choice making to push for condom usage and to scorn barebacking (or “natural sex” as whatshisname likes to call it.) Look, people are free to be as careless and live as dangerously as they wish, but no one should expect kudos or an endorsement on it.

  • JAW

    @bystander:

    WOW… that is scary… people are still dying from it and are feeling sick most days of their life… Even here in the USA…

    Plus you will be ostracized by many of your friends that will not have even safe sex with you… plus in some places you can end up in jail for not telling a sex partner that you are poz… the list goes on

  • Mr. Enemabag Jones

    I thought circumcision was suppose to lower HIV rates.

  • comus

    @Mr. Enemabag Jones: So much for the miracle prevention snip.

  • Adam

    @comus: The rates “skyrocketed” since 2005. Unless there was a mass circumcision in Israel in 2005, your arguments fall flat.

  • comus

    @Adam: I don’t think you caught my argument. My argument is that behavior is the number one factor affecting HIV infection rates. Circumcision might play a marginal role in third-world countries where condoms are unavailable, their use stigmatized, and the primary route of infection is vaginal intercourse, but that marginal benefit doesn’t justify the routine altering of infant genitalia. There is probably a strong ethical argument against circumcision even apart from any disease-prevention rationalization, but in Western societies where there is relative liberality towards gays and widespread condom availability, it isn’t justified.

  • Cam

    @Mr. Enemabag Jones:

    No, there was a belief among some doctors that circumcising SLIGHTLY lowered the risk only because they thought that underneath a foreskin might be a place where a virus could survive longer.

    Also, that would really only seem to be relevant for a top sleeping with an infected bottom. If the guy on the bottom is circumcised….really isn’t going to be an issue either way outside of giving his partner a bit more skin to play with during a reach down.

  • TLCTugger

    The time frame of this shift coincides with the first reckless announcements that circumcised men might be less susceptible to HIV.

    Of course it’s nonsense. Most of the US men who have died of AIDS were circumcised at birth. Non-cutting Japan’s rates are now far lower than Israel’s.

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