Israel is a country situated in the Middle East with a population of approximately 6,847,000. The country is characterized by low incidences of sexually transmitted diseases, a fact that various studies have correlated with male circumcision. This is because most males in this country are circumcised due religious beliefs in both Islam and Judaism. Moreover influences of both tradition and religious are still very well-built in the Middle East including Israel, and social taboos addressing issues on sexuality, drug abuse are central, along with the great respect for the family value. But these low incidences of HIV/AIDS are mainly attributed to the government supportive role and dedicated medical professional who have successful instilled awareness among the people on how to manage and prevent HIV/AIDS.
Statistics on AIDs in Israel
According to research information released by Israel authorities by the end of 2006 reported that a total of 4999 HIV cases, the report also showed that a total of 1042 of the individuals that had been infected with HIV developed AIDS inclusive of 653 who had succumbed to the pandemic. The report also showed majority were infected heterosexually followed by sex between men (WHO 2006). Also the information released by Israeli HIV/AIDS registry indicated that in 2006, 246, 908 people went through HIV testing. The testing indicated that that, almost half of the new cases were from persons originating from countries with generalized HIV epidemic (State of Israel2006).
Strategies to fight the disease
Israel government has put down strategies that ensure majority of the people go through HIV testing so that they know their status, something that has seen the number of HIV infections to go down drastically with 2006 reporting the lowest number of HIVand AIDS cases since 1989. For instance HIV testing is compulsory for a prisoner at entry. This strategy has made it possible to minimize the spread of HIV among the prisoners. Also the test is systematic among the blood donors and immigrants from countries where the pandemic is highly prevalent. The government has made it sure that HIV testing is confidential and accessible to anyone requesting it by putting up AIDS centres throughout the country together with health maintenance organization clinics. For instance the Jerusalem AIDS project is charged with the responsibility of equipping the people with professional knowledge on HIV/AIDS not only in Israel but also in the Middle East and developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
The department of tuberculosis and AIDS and public health in Israel make sure that the patients have an access to specialized treatment and also giving the psychological support. These departments are expected to remove all administration barriers for the patients by supplying them with most of the medical care and support care including anti-retroviral and other drugs directly at the regional HIV centers. By minimizing the administrative procedures and giving support care to the patients, these departments aims at improving compliance to treatment which has not been very effective. (State of Israel 2006)
Israel AIDS task force since its establishment 20 years ago has made great strides towards containing the disease in the country including other developing countries for instance Ethiopia. It even received presidential award for outstanding voluntary work at the end of 2006. Some of its achievements include helping the newly diagnosed people during difficult time and prepare them psychologically to accept their new status. They also handle complaints of stigmatization and receiving inadequate medical attention. Their other responsibilities include; giving newsletters of medical updates, distribution of life saving medication to the minority (migrants). This task force also has the responsibility of educating the general public and instilling habits of responsible sexual behaviors. (Israel AIDS Task Force 2006)
Research by Israel on HIV/AIDS.
Israel has not been left behind in research on HIV and AIDS. Researchers have relentlessly continued to give HIV and AIDS victims hope and make them see that HIV aids is no longer a death sentence. For instance Researchers in Israel at the IBM research lab (HRL) have actively taken part in the European consortium aimed at coming up with an integrated system for anti-HIV treatment. The main aim of this consortium is to improve EUresist which is a European integrated system for clinical management of anti-retroviral drug resistance (ISRAEL21c 2005). This research aims at solving the problem of drug resistance by the virus. Also Nutracea company (a company that manufactures Risolubles ) in collaboration with Hadassah university medical center in Jerusalem has carried out a clinical study on Risolubles as a supportive therapy for HIV/AIDS patients. This research aimed at validating Anecdotal evidence of immunological benefits from humanitarian feeding programs with Risoluble (R) (Red orbit 2006).
The pioneering work of Israel has been felt in the medical field especially in researches that attempt to get a treatment of AIDS and effective management of the disease. Israel is accredited for the immense breakthrough despite the fact that the disease is rare in Israel. Before the end of 2006, Israel had had made a lot of contributions to finding the best way to treat this pandemic. Some of the contributions include development of Hypecirin, a drug with effective anti-viral characteristics and whose anti-viral properties were documented at Weizmann institute. Vimrxyn, Hypecirin-based drug is planned to be tested for treatment of AIDS. This new vaccine developed by Israel researchers at Hadassah university center and Weizmann institute of science could have an impact in treatment of AIDS patients. This vaccine aims at arresting the autoimmune destruction process by the virus. This is a development of the current conventional cocktail medications which kills only the virus and allows the affected immune system to continue killing health cells. Therefore this invention is based on straightening the body immune system against the effects of the virus. ( Israel Faxx 2005)Also medical researchers in Israel have developed artificial blood that will help reduce incidences of transmission of the virus through blood transfusion. Currently there are many reaches going on and are yet to be concluded. For instance an Israeli-American firm called phermos/ pharmatec is working on how to improve the method for delivering AZT to the brain. Also Hebrew university medical researchers are working on what they believe will help people infected with AID form avoiding more serious infection and neurological disorders.
Contributions by Israeli doctors in fighting HIV/AIDS
Israel doctors have continued to contribute towards containing HIV/AIDS outside the boundaries of Israel. For instance members of the dream doctors project founded by Professor Danny Engelhard who is the head of pediatric infectious diseases and AIDS at Hadassah university hospital situated in Jerusalem has successfully reduced the number of deaths among the Ethiopian children who are infected with HIV/AIDS. He did this by initiating anti-retroviral therapy to all infected children. Since the anti-retroviral therapy commenced in Ethiopia the number of children who die from HIV related complications has dropped drastically. The dream doctors project has been implemented in over 12 hospitals in Israel (ISRAEL21c 2006). Israeli doctors have also continued training doctors from developing countries mainly Africa. For instance doctors from Israeli have participated in training Ethiopian doctors on HIV/AIDS management. This program which was funded by the US government was intended to equip Ethiopian medical professionals with techniques that Israel doctors have developed over the decades that will help them handle HIV/AIDS effectively (Israel Forum for international humanitarian Aid 2006). Ethiopia is of great relevance to Israel in its quest to curb the spread of HIV mainly because those suffering from this pandemic in Israel are mostly of Ethiopian origin, which is among the worst hit countries Africa.
Another doctor who has who has committed himself selflessly towards getting solution to this pandemic is Dr. Gideon Hirsch. As head of Israel AIDS task force, he greatly contributed against the spread of HIV in Israel. After learning that he was HIV positive, two decades ago, he stood at the front line in campaigns against the harsh treatment and stigma that is associated with people living with HIV. His unyielding effort towards advocating for the rights of people living with HIV brought into place the new AIDS medications into the ministry of health’s subsidized list of medicines. This made sure that the medicines required by people living with HIV were not only easily available but also affordable. He is accredited for the enhancement of medical services provided to the population. Above all he fought tirelessly to reverse the obsolete terminology that equates AIDS with death and that brings about inequality of people living with the virus (Israel AIDS task force 2006)
Israel is a country that is worthy to be emulated by the rest of the world as we aspire to have an HIV/AIDS free era. This is mainly because of the relentless efforts by the government to see that this pandemic is contained not only in Israel bit also in the whole world. The government and the medical professional are to applaud for this success. Despite this success there are still many challenges that have frustrated Israel and other countries that are interested in having an era free of HIV/ AIDS. For instance financing HIV/AIDS programs has been very expensive and can only overcome if developed countries give this programs a top priority. HIV/AIDS is everybody’s concern and if we come together no challenges can bar us from eliminating this pandemic.