There are strong indications that the spread of HIV in Iceland has slowed significantly. An activist for the HIV positive says that those diagnosed still fear prejudice from society as a whole.
HIV is not very prevalent in Iceland. There are about 280 individuals diagnosed as HIV positive in Iceland, with the first reported case appearing in 1983. Vísir now reports that there is evidence the spread of the virus has slowed down.
Four people were diagnosed as HIV positive this year – two men and two women, one of whom contracted the virus by sharing a hypodermic needle. The others contracted the virus through unprotected sex. However, last year, 23 were diagnosed with the virus, among them 13 intravenous drug users. In 2010, there were 24 diagnosed with HIV – the most ever found in a single year in Iceland – ten of whom contracted the virus by sharing needles.
Haraldur Briem, a doctor of epidemiology, believes the sharp decline in those diagnosed with HIV can be attributed to the source. The intravenous drug user diagnosed this year has a strong connection with the users from the years previous. He believes the outbreak within this group was created from a single incident of them all sharing infected needles.
Einar Þór Jónsson, director of the HIV awareness group HIV-samtök, takes the latest figures as good news, saying that his group has worked hard to educate people in how they can protect themselves. At the same time, however, he stresses that the HIV positive still feel as though they have to keep their diagnosis under wraps, in order to avoid the prejudice of others. This is despite the fact that medication for HIV has come a long way, to the point where the HIV positive can live for many years without showing any symptoms.