Rise in Stockholm HIV cases ‘scandalous’

The Social Democrats have argued for the need to establish a needle exchange for drug users in Stockholm to curb a sharp rise in HIV infections.

Rise in Stockholm HIV cases 'scandalous'

The number of new HIV infections “has doubled and it is in Stockholm where the most cases are,” Social Democrat member of parliament, Ylva Johansson wrote in a debate article in Dagens Nyheter on Friday.

Malmö has had a needle exchange program for the past 20 years for people addicted to class A drugs. The spread of HIV has been negligible in Malmö over the last seven years.

Johansson argues that the UN, Swedish authorities, and researchers worldwide consider needle exchanges to be an effective tool against the spread of HIV.

Birgitta Rydberg, chairperson of Stockholm county council’s healthcare committee has opposed the method.

“A scandal,” argues Johansson who argues that a needle exchange program should be established in the capital at the earliest opportunity.

541 new cases of HIV were reported in 2007 – the highest number in a single year since a diagnosis became possible in 1986.

The increase was primarily among men who have sex with men and among Stockholm’s intravenous drug-users.

The increase appears to have eased in 2008 however, according to recent statistics covering the first six months of the year.

HIV causes the incurable disease AIDS and is transmitted primarily by penetrative sex or when drug-users share needles.