HIV infection among Israeli gay men up 55% since 2005

Israel's ministry of health found that infection rate amongst gay men is five times more common than among straights

HIV infection among Israeli gay men up 55% since 2005
18 February 2013

There has been a 55% increase in HIV infections among gay men since 2005, according to the Israeli ministry of health figures.

According to the figures the rate of HIV infection among gay men is 4.5 times the rate of infection among heterosexuals, reported Haaretz daily.

In 2010 a Israeli ministry of health survey found that over 20% if gay men reported having anal sex without a condom and 25% used recreational drugs which increase the risk factors.

Figures of unprotected anal sex was high as 40% in gay men who said they have regular casual sex.

Between 1981 through the end of 2011, there were 6,579 people in Israel who were diagnosed as having HIV or full-blown AIDS. Of this total, 1,265 were gay men.

The Israeli ministry of health estimates that there are some 7,750 people with HIV in Israel, and that one-third of these people don’t know they are infected.

In addition, in January 2010 there was a reported spike of other sexually transmitted diseases among gay men.

The incidence of penile gonorrhea was 55 percent higher among gay men than among straight men, while there were 16 times as many cases of pharyngeal ‏(throat‏) gonorrhea and 2.3 times as many cases of syphilis among gay men compared to heterosexual men.

In the last few years, Israel’s ministry of health has started working with The Aguda, the country’s main LGBT organization, to reduce the rate of infection, by distributing condoms at gay clubs, removing the doors of saunas to prevent particularly risky anal sex, and promoting sexual health in Internet chat forums.

Speaking with GayStarNews, Shai Doitsh, the chair of The Aguda said: ‘We are working closely with the ministry, and in the next few weeks we are launching a new programme to deal with the rate of HIV infection in Israel’s LGBT community.

‘The findings are similar to those found in the West, and requires work not only on preventative methods and risk awareness but dealing with why people nevertheless engage in unsafe sex despite their knowledge of both.

‘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”, that is, 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.

‘These are the three factors that we are now going to target, not only through the distribution of preventative methods but especially through education, counselling, therapy that will target risk behavior and drug usage’. 

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