Three substance abusers were recently diagnosed with HIV infections and hepatitis C. They all knew each other and doctors believe they were infected by sharing needles. Doctors fear an epidemic.
“We have feared infection among groups who share needles for a long time,” State Epidemiologist Haraldur Briem told Fréttabladid. Briem said three cases of HIV that were diagnosed in a short time span should be considered a warning.
“We always expected such a blow. Hundreds of people take drugs with needles in this country,” Briem said, adding that doctors had feared an HIV epidemic among drug abusers since HIV was first diagnosed in Iceland in the 1980s.
It is only a matter of time when there will be an outbreak, the doctor said.
The Directorate of Health is considering providing easier access to disinfected needles for substance abusers, not only to protect them from HIV infections but also from hepatitis C.
In 2006, 11 individuals were diagnosed with HIV in Iceland. Three were diagnosed with AIDS and one died from the disease. In the same year 42 individuals were diagnosed with hepatitis C.