• Sweden's news in English

Swedish law behind rise in HIV cases: experts

Vivian Tse · 1 Dec 2010, 15:15

Published: 01 Dec 2010 15:15 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"Today, when there is effective treatment, HIV is no longer a fatal disease. There is no study that shows that punishment for HIV transmission reduces the spread of the virus," wrote Inger Forsgren, Anders Karlsson, Åsa Regnér and Per Ole Träskman in a opinion piece published in the Dagens Nyheter daily on Wednesday.

Forsgren is the chairperson of HIV-Sweden, Karlsson the head doctor of Södersjukhuset's Venhälsan, Regnér the general secretary of the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (Riksförbundet för Sexuell Upplysning, RFSU) and Träskman a criminal law professor at Lund University.

"The law against infectious diseases should undergo a thorough overhaul, the duty to inform abolished and only those who deliberately transmit HIV prosecuted," they added.

Agneta Holmström, the head of the infectious diseases unit at the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen), said that she does not know if the duty of disclosure, which requires all those thought to be infected with a sexually transmitted disease to come forward for testing in order to track the spread, has resulted in a spike in HIV cases.

"That's something for the government department to look into if they decide to look over this act. But our agency, we will continue to look into this and talk to the Swedish Institute of Infectious Disease Control (Smittskyddsinstitutet - SMI) to do a study," she told The Local on Wednesday.

She added that occasionally, it may involve a misunderstanding when it comes to ordering people to test for STDs, such as having the wrong address on file for the individual.

Among all STDs, Holmström said the one that poses the greatest concern in Sweden remains chlamydia because the general population are "very much aware" of the risks involved with the other diseases, saying that HIV is stable in Sweden aside from occasion outbreaks among drug users.

"They don't think chlamydia is a serious disease, it's not life-threatening, they don't think they have to go and get tested. There has been an explosion in the last few years since 2007. It is very difficult to find the people you have relations with," she said.

Sweden's first HIV case was diagnosed in 1982, before AIDS was properly diagnosed by the US Centers for Disease Control. Slightly more than 5,000 people in Sweden currently live with AIDS, said Viveca Urwitz, the former head of the SMI's HIV prevention unit.

Up until December 2009, a total of 8,935 HIV infection cases had been reported in Sweden, of which 30 percent involved women and 2,310 were diagnosed as AIDS. A total of 486 new cases were reported last year.

Slightly more than 50 percent of the new cases were reported in Stockholm, 14 percent in Västra Götaland and Skåne and the remainder across the country.

Urwitz revealed that more than half of all new diagnosed HIV cases in Sweden every year are among new migrants from high-risk countries, with Thailand and Ethiopia the two most common.

Story continues below…

"A lot of them don't know, some do and some don't," Urwitz told The Local regarding HIV-infected migrants to Sweden.

She emphasised that these migrants are not refugees, but those who come to Sweden for family or work purposes.

Overall, the number of people living with HIV in Sweden is slowly growing, particularly among high-risk groups such as men who have sex with other men, intravenous drug users and people who buy and sell sex.

Both Holmström and Urwitz believe that the government's measures to combat HIV and AIDS are effective, but Urwitz pointed out health care and education, the main drivers behind prevention, are decentralised in Sweden, so it is difficult to ensure the same treatment across the country.

Vivian Tse (vivian.tse@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

16:16 December 1, 2010 by locaxy
"Among all STDs, Holmström said the one that poses the greatest concern in Sweden remains chlamydia because the general population are "very much aware" of the risks involved with the other diseases, saying that HIV is stable in Sweden aside from occasion outbreaks among drug users."

Sloppy journalism! "Drug users" in Sweden are mostly boozers and caffeinated people. The same way "drug users" in Bolivia are mostly coca chewing and tobacco smoking people.

Even when only accounting for so-called illegal drugs, intravenous delivery is a tiny minority. 90%+ of people snort, smoke or ingest.
16:44 December 1, 2010 by SouthAfrican_in_Sweden
Disclosure is not necessary in South Africa. Following the current reasoning this means that there should be a reduction in new cases. It is very silly to focus on one thing that is important to you and assigning causality to it without thinking about what you are saying.

I think it would be better if more diseases are disclosed rather than fewer. This will reduce the risk of exploitation.
16:52 December 1, 2010 by calebian22
'It is very difficult to find the people you have relations with"

That is the problem in a nutshell. If you don't know it, don't hit it.
17:40 December 1, 2010 by engagebrain
Despite drug treatments having HIV is still causes many problems and is likely to reduce live expectancy and quality of life. I and I suspect others would be pretty angry if someone who knew they were HIV + failed inform me and, assuming I consented, failed to take suitable precautions.

The article states that there is no evidence that legal punishment alters transmission rates, but there is in fact simply no evidence either way. The basic assumption must be that the possibility of legal action does alter behavour - but only if there actually is action taken against those who pass on STDs.
22:43 December 1, 2010 by Tennin
No matter what type of STD someone has, they should be required to tell their partner about it. At least they have a chance to decide for themself if they want to still have sex or not, and to use protection.
22:57 December 1, 2010 by Rishonim
With the careless sexual behaviour in Sweden, I am surprised we don't have an AIDS pandemic here. One would think people are educated enough to know that dipping the stick without a rain coat has it consequences. I think people from poorer nations have better awareness of STD that here in Sweden.
08:38 December 2, 2010 by izbz
I think they should really be a law that every person should be tested for HIV, it is hard to say cause alot of people do not even know they have. Like say some even got it from blood transfusion in the early stage of AIDS pandemic specially in Asia. those migrating to Sweden should be really tested before being accepted.

But thank God that HIV positive can have the virus control by medication and the dedication of the doctor who are specialise in that, Hopefully they will be able to find a cure for this curse,

Blaming it on Ethopia or Thailand is not really the main thing but blame that on ourselves for not using condom. Maybe can blame it on the monkeys that startedf all that instead!!!!!!
09:00 December 2, 2010 by Snöregn
KEEP the duty to inform. If anyone is sick, there IS a duty to inform, ETHICALLY!

And a pandemic will arise if the country continues to believe that the disease will never touch us in Sweden because it "comes from immigrants" or "man on man" relations or unless you have "had sex with an African".

Demand to be tested and may Sweden smell their own coffee!
21:48 December 2, 2010 by Da Goat
They should treat Aids like Foot and mouth and wipe it out!

the population control bit of it is gone and only the milk the poor saps money bit is left!
20:23 December 3, 2010 by sureiam
every infectous disease person should be encountable in front of the law NOT only HIV......................................

IN MY MIND I BELIEVE THE IS AS INGORANT AS ANYONE ELSE IN THE STREET ABT HIV:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

So o finger picking...............all people that have not been close to loved one who affected with this "not deadly desease, shall never know abt it and will never make effort to know abt it , they will just remain as ignorant as i the 70s and 80s when it was deadly.........................................and high 5, tumb up for HIV infectious people in Sweden or other countries of remaining unknown!!!!!!!!!
Today's headlines
Refugee crisis
Asylum requests in Sweden down by 70 percent
Sweden's migration minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden received 70 percent fewer requests for asylum in the period between January and September 2016 than it did during the same time last year, the country’s justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson has revealed.

The unique story of Stockholm's floating libraries
The Stockholm archipelago book boat. Photo: Roger Hill.

Writer Roger Hill details his journeys on the boats that carry books over Stockholm's waterways and to its most remote places.

Refugee crisis
Second Stockholm asylum centre fire in a week
The new incident follows a similar fire in Fagersjö last week (pictured). Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police suspect arson in the blaze, as well as a similar incident which occurred last Sunday.

More misery for Ericsson as losses pile up
Ericsson interim CEO Jan Frykhammar presenting its third quarter results. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

The bad news just keeps coming from the Swedish telecoms giant.

Facebook 'sorry' for removing Swedish cancer video
A computer displaying Facebook's landing page. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant had censored a video explaining how women should check for suspicious lumps in their breasts.

Watch this amazing footage of Sweden’s landscapes
A still from the aerial footage of Sweden. Photo: Nate Summer-Cook

The spectacular drone footage captures both Sweden's south and the opposite extreme, thousands of kilometres north.

Sweden could be allowed to keep border controls: EU
Police ID checks at Hyllie station in southern Sweden. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Sweden could be allowed to keep ID controls on its border with Denmark beyond the current end date of November, following discussions among EU leaders in Brussels last night.

Why women in Sweden will work for free by November
File photo of a woman working in a Swedish office. Photo: Anders Willund/TT

A new study into the gender pay gap suggests Sweden still has some work to do.

Look familiar? Meet your jawbone's ancestor
Thank God for evolution, eh?

There's something fishy about the human jawbone – it has its origins in the placodermi, a jowly species of fish that lived 400 million years ago, Swedish and Chinese researchers say.

Isis claims unremarked arson attack in Malmö
The arson attack took place on Norra Grängesbergsgatan in Malmö. File photo: Emil Langvad/TT

An arson attack in Malmö that caused only minor damage and was barely reported in the media has been claimed by terror group Isis.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available