Visitations to a Red Cross ambulance specially-equipped for intravenous drug users numbered 830 last year. The initiative is called “Frú Ragnheiður” and is aimed at providing addicts with clean syringes and other tools for drug use to prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C.
A regular Icelandic ambulance. The photo is not related to the article. Archive photo by Páll Stefánsson.
Last weekend children playing in Suðurnes, southwest Iceland, found used syringes near a playground—a serious health hazard, Morgunblaðið reports.
HIV infections among intravenous drug users are on the rise; last year 24 persons were diagnosed with HIV in Iceland, most of who take drugs via syringe.
SÁÁ, the National Center of Addiction Medicine, estimates that there are approximately 700 intravenous drug users in Iceland. Þór Gíslason, the project manager of “Frú Ragnheiður” believes that 250-300 thereof are heavy users.
In his view their main problem is that they lack a position within the healthcare and social security system and the project is an effort towards improving their position.
The need for such services is growing, Þór stated. “To begin with we went out two times a week but we’ve since increased this to five with two-hour shifts each time.”
Click here to read more about the spread of HIV infection in Iceland.