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BGU Professor Leads Israel's Fight Against AIDS

August 15, 2012

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BGU's Prof. Zvi Bentwich visit to Washington DC was recently featured in the Washington Diplomat's e-newsletter The Diplomatic Pouch.

Prof. Zvi Bentwich, founder of BGU's Center for Emerging Tropical Diseases and AIDS, spoke at the Embassy of Israel at an event co-sponsored by AABGU. He was also in town to attend the XIX International AIDS conference.

“The challenges of AIDS changed my life,” says Bentwich. “It was a terrible disease, totally fatal, with social and human rights implications. Last but not least, it was a tremendous scientific challenge. As such, I created the first AIDS center in Israel, and then came the Ethiopian immigration.”

Bentwich at Embassy of Israel

Prof. Zvi Bentwich answers questions at the event at the Embassy of Israel

Bentwich noticed that between 70 percent to 80 percent of the Ethiopian immigrants arriving in Israel in the 1990s to start new lives there suffered from intestinal worms and parasites. 

These are neglected tropical diseases that compromise people's immune systems.

According to Prof. Bentwich, for Africa to successfully fight the AIDS epidemic, its health authorities must also tackle neglected tropical diseases.

Prof. Bentwich's research and activism in Ethiopia are connected to de-worming, drug distribution, health education, and improving water supply and sanitation.

“Even if you don’t eradicate these diseases, you can decrease the amount of parasites in the population. The immediate impact of giving out these medications is watching children flock around you and tell you they feel so much better. This is a reward you don’t have to wait ages for,” says Prof. Bentwich.