HIV infections on the rise in Sweden

A record number of Swedes were infected with HIV in 2007.

Stockholm’s intravenous drug users suffered a major outbreak which added to the high infection statistics. The virus strain is new and appears to have come from Finland.

Through the middle of November 2007, forty-five new cases of HIV infections were discovered among drug addicts in Stockholm county. The figure is more than double the twenty-two cases confirmed in 2006 and significantly higher than the twenty-six cases recorded in 2005.

“This is amounts to a real emergency,” said Åke Örtqvist, a doctor of infectious diseases in Stockholm.

Analyses show that most new cases are carrying a virus strain that hasn’t been found in Sweden earlier. The strain, CRF01-AE, was discovered about eight years ago among intravenous drug users in Helsinki.

Eight of the infected Stockholm addicts were infected through sexual activity. But most often the virus is spread through the sharing of contaminated needles.

In Skåne, HIV infections have been held in check with the help of a needle-exchange program as recommended by several UN-bodies. However, politicians in Stockholm are deeply split on the questions, which is set to be examined further.