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Middle Eastern
scientists put aside differences to combat HIV/AIDS

Middle Eastern
scientists put aside differences to combat HIV/AIDS

While their fellow citizens continue to sort out differences through bloodshed, health representatives from Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine joined forces at the 16th International AIDS Conference. Representatives from all three regions as well as Iranian officials gathered in Toronto this week to discuss how HIV/AIDS is affecting the Middle East.

"In a troubled region like the Middle East, it is important to mention that the researchers are proving that HIV can bring people together," Inon Schenker, a professor at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, told Agence-France Presse. "We're building a bridge of peace."

The Middle Eastern researchers, physicians, and scientists were lauded by the international community for their solidarity at the conference. Their cooperation was particularly impressive given that the Lebanese and Israelis were at the very same time entering a fragile state of cease-fire in their bloody war. George Azzi, founder of a gay and lesbian group called Helem, pointed out that the Israeli-Lebanese conflict was "only strengthening religious radicalism in the region" and thus badly damaging efforts to battle HIV/AIDS.

An estimated 510,000 people in the Middle East and North Africa are infected with HIV/AIDS, but there has been a limited response to the epidemic due to its "perceived low prevalence" in the region. (The Advocate)

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