The employees of Landspítali National Hospital in Reykjavík who treat drug addicts say addicts have grown more ruthless and less respectful for their own health and the health of others in recent years. Some of them summon drug dealers to the hospital for a fix despite being mortally ill.
The national hospital is the white building up front. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.
“There are stories circulating among the drug users themselves that HIV infected addicts are injecting others with used needles,” senior physician of the social disease ward Már Kristjánsson told Fréttabladid. “The ruthlessness is reaching new heights.”
Kristjánsson said not a day passes by without one to four patients being treated at the ward for drug-related problems and at the end of last year five new HIV cases related to drug abuse were diagnosed.
Drug dealers are repeatedly being summoned by patients and a death at the ward in 2007 can be traced back to such an incident.
“The problem is that the ward is open into another ward where elderly people are being treated for various diseases,” Kristjánsson said.
“Addicts don’t have any problem scheduling a meeting with drug dealers and they do so in spite of threats that they will be thrown out of the hospital,” he explained.
In a period of six years the percentage of seriously ill needle-dependent drug addicts who seek treatment at Landspítali has increased by twenty percent. An estimated number of 700 such drug addicts are currently living in Iceland.