Cablegate: Aids Still at Low Levels, but Hepatitis C Virus

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: The incidence of HIV/AIDS remains low in
Israel, with about half of new cases from sexual
transmission. Most cases of infection from intravenous drug
use are among immigrants from the former Soviet Union. At
the same time, the incidence of Hepatitis C is high among
drug users, and the health care community is mobilizing to
educate drug users and the public about that disease. End

AIDS Cases in Israel
2. News reports on the morning of World AIDS Day stated that
4200 cases of AIDS have been detected in Israel, though
there are likely twice as many additional HIV carriers.
There have been about 300 new cases of HIV infection each
year for the past five years. Thirty to forty percent of
those have been detected among the close-knit Ethiopian
immigrant community, with infection from sexual contact.
About half of those infected contracted the disease
following their arrival in Israel. The number of cases of
infection from sexual contact between homosexual males
jumped from 30 to 60 per year over the past three years.

Related Patterns of Drug Use
3. There are an estimated 28,000 heroin users between the
ages of 18 and 40. Intravenous drug use increased in the
1990's, and about one-fourth of heroin users are from the
former Soviet Union (FSU). Women comprise one-fifth of
heroin users. The most significant predictors of HIV among
drug users are previous foreign residence or travel abroad.
Most drugs users with HIV are from the FSU. The absence of
shooting-up galleries in Israel may help explain a general
low incidence of HIV among IV drug users. Nonetheless,
substance abuse specialists and AIDS researchers expect
HIV/AIDS to increase.

High Incidence of HCV Among Drug Users
--------------------------------------------- --------
4. There is a high incidence of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)
among IV drug users. Rehabilitation treatment is offered to
drug addicts. There are seven methadone treatment centers
across Israel. Blood testing is performed for new entrants
to treatment. Seventy percent of new clients test positive
for HCV.

Public Less Aware of HCV Risk
5. Academics, health care providers, and government
officials are concerned about a lack of knowledge about the
transmission of HCV. A workshop in Tel Aviv in October
focused on syringe exchange and information outreach to
decrease high-risk behaviors such as sharing of needles or
inhalation paraphernalia, along with public education about
modes of transmission of HCV. Dr. Sheila Strauss of the
National Development Research Institutes in New York
addressed the workshop, noting that U.S. experience showed
the importance of education, testing, and medical monitoring
to arrest the spread of HCV.

Health Care Community Mobilizing on HCV
--------------------------------------------- ---------
6. Comment: The Israeli public knows more about the means
of contracting HIV than how HCV is spread. As with
HIV/AIDS, treatment of HCV can be considerably more
expensive than prevention. Israel's health care community
is focused on mobilizing drug counselors to work with
patients to prevent HCV and catch it early on if it has been


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