Call for action to curb HIV spread

European health officials on Friday called on Greek authorities to take urgent action to curb a sharp rise in cases of HIV, the virus that can cause AIDS, particularly among drug users who share needles.

The number of cases of HIV infection among drug users has increased radically since 2008 from 10 to 487, according to new figures.

Addressing a joint press conference with Greek health experts, the head of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Marc Sprenger, said failure to take swift action could lead the outbreak to spiral out of control. “If the program is not intensified, it is very likely that the transfer of HIV between intravenous drug users will accelerate, leading to a high ocurrence of AIDS within a very short time,” Sprenger said. He recommended distributing more needles to an estimated 3,000 intravenous drug users in the capital, where the problem is particularly acute.