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Overdose-related deaths, new HIV cases on rise again

Used sharps and syringes at a support center. Photo is illustrative.
Used sharps and syringes at a support center. Photo is illustrative. Source: (Toomas Huik/Postimees)

Statistics from the National Institute for Health Development (TAI) have shown that the number of deaths by overdose and number of new HIV cases have once again begun to rise.

As of Aug., 151 new cases of HIV have been registered in Estonia this year, nearly 25 percent more than during the first seven months of last year, reported daily Eesti Päevaleht (link in Estonian).

While last year saw a total of 114 deaths caused by narcotics overdoes, 54 such deaths were recorded in the first five months alone of 2017 — 15 more than during the same period last year. As a result, Estonia currently leads the EU in overdose deaths.

While the increase in overdoses may be affected in part by the spread of new and dangerous narcotics, TAI director Annika Veimer believes that the needle exchange crisis in the capital of Tallinn is also to blame.

"The provision of needle exchange services in Tallinn is clearly disrupted and this certainly has effects," Veimer said. "TAI's goal is to open new risk reduction centers in Tallinn, first and foremost in Põhja-Tallinn and Lasnamäe, where the need [for such services] is great."

In December 2016, Tallinn Administrative Court ruled that the city of Tallinn's order regarding the establishment of a needle exchange point on Paldiski Highway was lawful, however Põhja-Tallinn city district elder Raimond Kaljulaid (Center) confirmed that despite the favorable judgment, a needle exchange would not be established there after all, leaving the city district without a pemanent needle exchange point beginning this year following the closure of a point on Erika Street.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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