A significant and recent rise in the number of HIV+ Icelanders has led to the Red Cross initiating a programme that will offer free clean needles to Reykjavík’s drug addicts.
According to national health statistics, five people were diagnosed with HIV at the beginning of August. By the end of August, an additional 11 people were diagnosed. Gunnlaugur Grétarson, chairman of HIV-Iceland, told Vísir that he fears a record year in HIV diagnoses this year.
The Red Cross of Reykjavík has responded by planning a free clean needle distribution, to begin this December. An old ambulance will be used to drive around town, distributing the needles, RÚV reports.
Gunnlaugur has often emphasized the importance of making free and clean needles available to drug addicts. But he also has said that a lack of attentativeness may have contributed to the rise.
“The discussion has been waning and there is carelessness everywhere,” he told Vísir. He also criticises the high tax placed on condoms as contributing to the spread of the disease.