Swedish HIV infection rates up

HIV infection rates in Sweden have risen in 2007, according to the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control. Some 420 new cases have been reported in the year up to October, an increase from 312 during the same period in 2006.

The figures have been compiled to coincide with World Aids Day, which falls on Saturday.

The number of reported cases of the virus that can lead to AIDS has risen over the last five years, with a large number of people already infected before coming to Sweden. Even the domestic spread of the disease has increased. In 2002, the figure was about 50 in the first ten months of the year. This year, that figure is about 100.

“We are also seeing an increase in other sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis, said Anders Blaxhult, senior physician at the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease control.

“It’s a clear indication that people are taking greater risks during sex.”

One of the reasons for the disregard for the dangers associated with sexually transmitted diseases can be traced back to sex education in schools, which was less of a priority ten years ago. A situation that is being addressed, which Blaxhult believes is important.

Use of condoms in Sweden has also fallen significantly, thus contributing to an increase in the risks.

“Before getting into a sexual situation, people should decide how they want the process to go. Condoms are great protection against HIV, Chlamydia and other STDs,” said Blaxhult when asked for the one piece of advice he would give to young people on World Aids day.

In total today, 4,300 people live with HIV in Sweden. This is the highest number ever and is due to a decrease in deaths as well as an increase in the number of reported new cases.

TT/Vic Bassey