United States: The first joint HIV/AIDS task force between Israel and the United States is taking place in West Hollywood city where many of its residents fell victim to AIDS during the initial years of the epidemic .
The venture – to share clinical best practices, establish intergovernmental communication and bring together HIV/AIDS nonprofit organizations operating in West Hollywood and Israel – was officially inaugurated recently at Kol Ami synagogue in West Hollywood recently, according to jpost.com.
West Hollywood founded in 1984 in Los Angeles County is home to almost 35,000 people and 41 percent of them are gay men. Many of its residents were victims of the AIDS epidemic during the 1980s.
The task force was created by the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles, and an agreement signed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with California Gov. Jerry Brown in March and sponsored and approved by the West Hollywood City Council in July.
At the ribbon cutting ceremony both Mayor John D’Amico and council member John Duran spoke about how they are both part of the 1.1 million people in the United States living with HIV.
“The morals and the values of the Jewish faith are in fact many of the values that were around when the city was founded. We genuinely believe in helping people in all the stages of their life,” D’Amico said.
“I’m excited by this [partnership] because a country like Israel and a place like West Hollywood understand that the luck and promise of providing for others is an actual thing and we can do that,” he added.
Duran said he is “excited about the possibility of working together with our people who have had these extraordinary experiences [suffering through the AIDS epidemic] for 30 years, and collaborating with Israel.”
Consul-General to Los Angeles David Siegel pointed out that while many people see Israel as a place of war many Palestinians with HIV come to Israel for treatment and that Israel is a refuge for minorities being persecuted in the Middle East including members of the LBGQT community.
Kol Ami’s Rabbi Denise Eger pointed out that the inauguration of the task force came at a fitting time just ahead of the Jewish New Year when people will wish everyone a year of happiness, health and sweetness.