New HIV Cases in Finland Remain High for Second Consecutive Year, Health Officials Say
The number of new HIV cases recorded in Finland in 2007 remained at a record high for the second consecutive year, health officials said recently, Finland's Helsingin Sanomat reports (Helsingin Sanomat, 2/12). According to Finland's National Public Health Institute, 190 new HIV cases were recorded in both 2006 and 2007.
The number of new cases transmitted sexually has increased by about 33% since 2006, according to health officials. In addition, the number of new cases that occurred among men who have sex with men increased rapidly in the country, the officials said, Xinhua/CRIEnglish.com reports (Xinhua/CRIEnglish.com, 2/11). A large proportion of new cases also were recorded among heterosexual men who contracted the disease during foreign travel. Eight new cases recorded in 2007 were attributed to contaminated needles, Helsingin Sanomat reports.
Kirsi Liitsola, a researcher at NPHI's HIV unit, said that HIV awareness among MSM is high but that the repetition of prevention messages for more than 20 years has resulted in desensitization. According to Liitsola, another problem is that younger generations do not remember the events in the 1980s and early 1990s, when the country recorded the largest number of AIDS-related deaths. In addition, 20% of HIV-positive people are tested at a fairly late stage of the virus, Liitsola said. Sini Pasanen of the Finnish Body Positive Association -- a peer organization for people living with HIV/AIDS -- said that physicians should be more active in offering HIV tests. Both Liitsola and Pasanen are calling for increased education and prevention, as well as to improved access to testing, Helsingin Sanomat reports (Helsingin Sanomat, 2/12).