Finnish, US and UK ambassadors: Estonia needs to deal with its HIV epidemic

A nurse performing an HIV quick test (Postimees/Scanpix)
2/9/2016 8:58 AM
Category: Politics

The ambassadors of Finland, the United States and the United Kingdom appealed to the Constitutional Committee of the Riigikogu Estonian state to recognize the extent of the local HIV epidemic, and to appoint a special commission to deal with the problem.

According to the ambassadors, the situation is worrying despite years of persistent work in the area of HIV prevention. If measured by the WHO’s standards, the situation in Estonia had reached the magnitude of an epidemic, Postimees wrote yesterday.

The appeal to the Constitutional Commission called for more effective legislative work to make sure the situation was dealt with systematically and openly. The ambassadors stated that their governments were dedicated to their cooperation with Estonia, and would support it in dealing with this humanitarian problem.

The ambassadors also said that they would welcome the creation of a special commission of the Riigikogu on the issue.

In their assessment, the appointment of such a commission would come with several advantages, the coordination of prevention measures among them. This would guarantee that all available resources, no matter whether local or from international partners, could be used as effectively as possible.

The special commission would be a strong political sign that the fight against HIV is indeed a priority of the state, the social and medical institutions, the Riigikogu, and the government.

While most new infections in the West have been due to sexual transmission, primarily between homosexual males, in Estonia as well as Eastern Europe and Central Asia the majority are due to drug use, such as heroin users that exchange needles between them.

Lately though, the trend has shifted. In 2014, only 23% of all new infections were due to drug use, while the number of infections due to sexual transmission increased.

The latest statistics show an 11% decrease of the number of new infections in 2015 compared to the previous year, but even with the recorded decrease taken into account, Estonia’s new infection rate remains one of the highest in Europe.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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