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Chlamydia 'refuseniks' face police round up

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Chlamydia 'refuseniks' face police round up
Human pap smear showing chlamydia in vacuoles at 500x and stained with H&E
12:45 CET+01:00
Eight people in northern Sweden who have refused to submit to a test for the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia could be forcibly collected by police, reported the local Norrländska Socialdemokraten (NSD) daily.

After the refusal of repeated requests to submit to tests, the matter was referred to the administrative court (Förvaltningsdomstolen) which ruled on Monday to authorise the forcible examination of eight, of a total of eleven suspected cases, under provisions in the Communicable Diseases Act.

"They are fuss pots and refuseniks," said the county medical officer Anders Österlund to the newspaper.

Österlund told NSD that it is unusual that cases go as far as forcible collection by the police, but that the county health authority felt obliged to act in response to tougher guidelines from the Swedish Health and Welfare Board (Socialstyrelsen).

"We haven't changed the regulations. But the general understanding of monitoring these types of cases has been clarified. We have to trace the infection," said Agneta Holmström at the Health and Welfare Board to The Local on Wednesday.

The group of people, all resident in Norrbotten in the far north of Sweden, have repeatedly ignored requests, summonses, and even resisted police visits to advise them of their obligation to take a urine test.

The Communicable Diseases Act (1988) allows for a doctor to enact forcible measures to ensure the control of infectious diseases. If a person continues to have unprotected sex despite being under suspicion of carry an infection, then isolation can be enforced as a last resort.

"They (the doctors) are their own authority. But the measures have to be in proportion to the risk of infection," Holmström said, explaining that the law allows measures can be taken with respect to HIV, chlamydia and syphilis.

During the first half of 2010 17,253 case of chlamydia were reported to the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (Smittskyddsinstitutet - SMI), a decline of 8 percent on the corresponding period of 2009.

Despite the decline, the disease remains a priority for health authorities and SMI together with the Health and Welfare Board have recently published a joint guidance report on infectious diseases and the law, and the rights and obligation of infected individuals.

"We want to hinder the spreading of the diseases," Agneta Holmström told The Local.

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