Photo: Getty Images
'Men and women who come from a religious background are not immune to infection'
Photo: Getty Images

Rabbis approve guide for HIV prevention

First-of-its-kind booklet, with introduction written by rabbi, aims to guide religious homosexuals on how to avoid contracting HIV virus.

The number of new HIV infections in Israel has been on the rise in the past few years, including among men from the religious sector. A new first-of-its-kind booklet for religious homosexuals aims to guide them on how to avoid contracting the virus.



The introduction to the booklet, called "Venishamrtem" ("Get Protected"), was written by a rabbi and approved by other Jewish religious leaders.


Some 500 people were infected with HIV in Israel in 2012, and the numbers grow every year. About 150 of the infected patients are homosexual men, some of whom are religious people who are not taught in the religious educational system about sexual intercourse, contraceptives and the risks of unprotected sex.


'Silence has its price'

The Israel AIDS Task Force has decided to try to explain to the religious population about the risks, and launched the information and prevention booklet in collaboration with the Havruta organization for religious members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.


"We must understand in the clearest manner that silence has its price. When we fail to talk about a certain issue – it basically doesn't exist in our consciousness, and when it happens – the way to risky behavior is very short," the booklet's introduction says.


The guide explains the meaning of HIV and AIDS and elaborates on the high risk groups, the ways of contracting HIV, the ways to protect oneself, how to use a condom correctly and where one can get tested.


"The information is conveyed in the booklet in a way adjusted to the religious public. In other words, there are no revealing photos and the language is relatively subtle, although it does show men walking hand in hand," says Adir Yanko of the Israel AIDS Task Force.


"The absence of a discourse does not prevent infection. In a place where sex is not discussed, safe sex is not discussed either, and men and women who come from a religious background are not immune to infection. We hope that this move will cause other systems in the religious public to break the circle of silence."


"It's time for the religious public, its leaders and rabbis to look reality in the eye and start talking about sexual relations between men and about the way to avoid diseases," adds Havruta Chairman Eli Kaplan-Wildmann.


The booklet will be launched at a party of the Gavra religious gay line and will be distributed in religious centers which will allow it and among rabbis who will be able to offer advice and provide information to religious members of the LGBT community.


פרסום ראשון: 04.27.14, 00:33
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