Four people who insert illegal substances into their blood systems sharing needles have been infected with HIV in Iceland this year, the same number of drug addicts infected for the past five years. Doctors continue to fear an outbreak among drug abusers.
“HIV infections have been very rare among drug abusers through the years. The occasional incident has come up, but it hasn’t spread,” Haraldur Briem, Chief Epidemiologist at the Directorate of Health, told Morgunbladid.
“Around last New Year’s three case of infections were detected among drug abusers where the same patient had both HIV and hepatitis, which is very rare,” Briem said, adding he believes all infections this year derive from one person who has both HIV and hepatitis B. “This is a serious situation.”
According to Briem, the Directorate of Health has considered preventing infections like these by offering drug abusers free needles at treatment centers and health care centers, or even at places that are open 24-7, so they won’t have to share contaminated needles. Briem added both syringes and needles are available at pharmacies for a low price.
Minister of Health Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson told Morgunbladid the Directorate’s suggestions regarding free syringes and needles will be discussed at his ministry.
HIV was first diagnosed in Iceland in the beginning of the 1980s.