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Green Party calls for apology over HIV slurs

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14:22 CET+01:00
Sweden's Green Party has called on the government to apologize to people infected with HIV during the eighties for having been "violated by society and its institutions".

"The violations resulted in prejudice and suspicion against HIV infection that persists to this day," Gunvor Ericson, Green Party public health policy spokesperson, said in a statement.

Saturday marks World AIDS Day, and there are around 6,000 Swedes currently living with HIV. Worldwide around 35 million people are infected with either HIV or AIDS.

Gunvor Ericson argued that the violations and slurs which LGBT people were subjected to when HIV was a new disease has adversely affected their health.

"It was a time when many people suffered from the stigma that existed around HIV, and especially affected the health of this group," she said to the TT news agency.

"The Public Health Institute (Folkhälsöinstitutet) has conducted a study showing that LGBT people have poorer health than average. This is due not only to HIV infections, but also as a result of the stigma applied to many in this group."

Ericson cited discrimination with regards to marital status as one key area.

"Just the fact that if one's partner passed away, they would lose their apartment as there was no possibility of getting married."

The government has however responded that there are no plans in place to issue an apology on behalf of the Swedish state.

"No, there are no such plans. On our part there is a huge concern over a new report from the Infectious Diseases Institute (Smittskyddsinstitutet) showing that 20 percent don't know how HIV is transmitted," said Social Affairs minister Göran Hägglund's press officer Johan Ingerö.

"Information efforts must be much better, but we don't think it is particularly productive to get stuck in the 80's. A lot of mistakes were committed then, but the mistakes were based on the knowledge available at the time."

The Greens also want to remove the information requirement for those infected with HIV. The law stipulates that infected people are obliged to inform their partners and others who may be at risk of becoming infected.

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"Both parties have a responsibility to protect themselves in a sexual relationship. This information requirement makes people reluctant to get tested. The purpose is to reduce the spread of infection, and therefore this doesn't serve its purpose," Ericson said.

The Green Party has garnered the support of the Left Party in seeking reform of the Infectious Diseases Act with Hans Linde on Saturday arguing that responsibility for curbing infection has to reside with all parties, not just those who are HIV positive.

Around 10,000 Swedes have been infected with HIV since 1982.

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