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An attitude change needed in prevention of the HIV epidemic

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Publication date 29.5.2008 6.00
Press release -

Finland has succeeded in containing the number of HIV infections. Owing to our comprehensive maternity welfare and efficiently managed blood service system there do not occur mother-to-child infections or infections through blood transfusion in Finland. At the end of the 1990s the epidemic that constituted a threat to intravenous drug users could be halted by means of specific health counselling points.

Instead, there is still room for improvement in the control of sex-related risks in Finland. The trends of the last few years indicate that HIV infections are increasingly often transmitted through sex, regardless of sexual orientation. Infections are contracted in both Finland and in connection with tourism.

Last year 184 new cases of HIV were detected in Finland, while in 2006 they numbered 193. All in all, HIV infections have been diagnosed in 2,258 persons in Finland. AIDS has developed for 492 of them, and 281 persons have died of it.

This information appears from the report published by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the National Public Health Institute on 29 May, which includes for the first time a comprehensive review ofthe HIV/AIDS situation and plans and measures to stop the epidemic in Finland.

Finland has committed itself, together with the other UN member states, to halting the spread of the HIV epidemic by 2015. The member states report at regular intervals to the UN of their measures to achieve the objective and their situation in regard to HIV/AIDS. The UNGASS report 2006–2007 now published is a part of this reporting process.

On the occasion of publishing the report the Minister of Health and Social Services Paula Risikko underlined the need for attitude change in the prevention of HIV infections. As the means to that end could be used positive health information similar to that used in promotion of non-smoking.

The HIV/AIDS situation should according to Minister Risikko also be monitored by regular and repeated health questionnaires and by further lowering the threshold for taking a test.

“In the future we should by every means available promote, not only the knowledge but also the will and chances of Finns to protect themselves from infections, as well as a flexible access to tests in case of a possible risk,” the Minister stressed.

UNGASS hiv/aids country progress report Finland, January 2006 – December 2007. Ed. Mika Salminen. Publications of the National Public Health Institute of Finland B 4/2008. The report can be read at the website of the National Public Health Institute http://www.ktl.fi/portal/2920.

For further information please contact:

Merja Saarinen, Ministerial Counsellor, Health Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 9 160 74030.

Mika Salminen, Director, HIV Unit, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control, National Public Health Institute, tel. +358 9 4744 8454.

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