Sweden: Drug Addicts to Finally Receive Free Needles
June 20, 2005
On Thursday, Swedish Health Minister Morgan Johansson announced that the country would allow needle exchanges after decades of debate. "We want to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. That's the motive," for a new law being prepared, said Johansson. He noted that drug users contracted HIV at much higher rates in Stockholm than in Skaane, a southern province where a needle-exchange program has been tested since the 1980s.
Although many other countries have introduced similar programs, Sweden has experienced fierce opposition to what detractors call government's condoning of illegal drug use. The new law would allow local authorities to hand out free needles only if they can guarantee the drug user a spot in a detox program and follow-up care.
The Social Democratic government, which has a minority in Parliament, has had a difficult time rallying support among other political parties for a needle-exchange bill. Recently, the government reached a deal with its informal allies, the Greens, and the formerly communist Left Party.
The bill is expected to be introduced to Parliament in the fall, and would become law by January 2006 at the earliest.
Agence France Presse
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.