After PinkNews report, Israeli government drops policy to tag and cover in concrete HIV infected bodies

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The Israeli Ministry of Health is to drop its guidelines ordering the dead bodies of people who had HIV AIDS be tagged, segregated and covered in concrete.

The news comes following a PinkNews investigation into the treatment of the bodies last week.

The measures had stated that people who have HIV AIDS and other infectious diseases should be put in a plastic bag labelled with their status and put in an ambulance separate to anyone else, including health professionals.

It went on to state that if the bodies were not covered by concrete, then they must be buried in a tomb at least ten metres from all other bodies, according to newspaper Israel Hayom.

Now the health department has announced it will axe almost every part of the previously reported guidelines.

Bodies will no longer be separated, tagged, covered in concrete or be required to travel in a separate ambulance.

The one guideline that will remain is government monitoring of the bodied, tracking where they are.

The man in charge of the health department, Yaakov Litzman, is ultra-orthodox and has previously caused controversy with comments on the LGBT community.

During a February 2016 discussion in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, about Israeli health authorities becoming more sensitive towards LGBT people, Litzman compared the LGBT community to the ‘sinners’ who danced around the Golden Calf.

Campaigners from the Israeli AIDS Task Force welcomes the news – agreeing that the previous proposals had been illegal.

The story came to light after the family of a woman who had been HIV positive were left reeling when they discovered their loved one had been treated differently because of her status.

The grieving family discovered through a court order that it was because of the guidelines issued from the health department.

Documents issued by the Israeli Ministry of Health to Chevra Kadisha – the organisation to ensure Jewish people are prepared for burial according to Jewish tradition – instructed them to separate the bodies of people who had HIV or AIDS.

They claimed it was to protect others from catching infectious diseases – appearing to suggest the health department believe HIV can be contracted by air.

The guidelines were seen by the Israel AIDS Task Force earlier this year after the Magistrate Court in Kiryat Gat, a city in the south of Israel, received a lawsuit filed by the family of the deceased woman.

The 18-year-old, who has not been named throughout this process, died of AIDS related complications.

The family said her body was denied recognition and the same level of treatment as other bodies because she had been HIV positive.

The judge ruled that there had been discrimination in the case, awarding the family 30,000 shekel – equivalent to $7,750 or £6,200.

Special registration of burial is a serious violation of a person’s right to privacy under Israeli law.

The Israeli Ministry of Health had denied the guidelines being their official policy.

They say the suggestions were just part of draft proposals and were absolutely not meant to be issued to any organisations.

“A draft of the procedure was transferred by mistake and not the final version.

“Officials working on a procedure relating to the treatment of the bodies of people infected with infectious diseases labels, not just HIV, which includes diseases such as Ebola.”

PinkNews spoke to a medical expert who said the segregation could be appropriate for bodies with Ebola, as the body is at its most infectious right before death, but they know of no evidence that it’s appropriate for bodies who had HIV.