Thursday, May 17, 2007

Leaders of NAMA’s Swedish Affiliate Svenska Brukarforeningen (SBF) Report to Police for Handing Out Clean Needles

National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

Contact Person: Joycelyn Woods, President

For Release
May 17, 2007

On May 4 SBF’s President, Berne Stålenkrantz and the Stockhom Director, Johan Stenbäck presented themselves to the Norrmalm Police Station in Stockholm for handing out clean needles to drug users.

The purpose of the action was to get an official assessment of the their crime and to bring to the public the fact that Sweden does not allow syringes to be sold in pharmacies as is done is all other countries in the European Union (EU). SBF is also considering reporting Sweden to the European Union for its failure to comply with EU rules surrounding the common market.

In southern Sweden needle exchange programs have been keeping the spread of HCV nd HIV under control for the past 20 years. County and Town Councils have been allowed to establish needle exchange programmes if they so wish. However in Stockholm no such programs have been established.

According to Stålenkrantz if the penalty is mild they will continue with what they are doing. However after SBF publicized that they were providing drug users with clean needles the organization suddenly found its financing from Stockholm City Council under threat.

Stålenkrantz also reported that a colleague suffering from a Hepatitis C was planning to report the city's social services department to the police because he has contracted a deadly illness after being refused clean syringes. He will also state that he was a victim of SBF’s having received clean syringes from the organization.

Needle exchange programs have been used worldwide for the past twenty years and provides a way for drug users to avoid the risks of drug use as well as a way to access support services including treatment.

"We are handing out syringes for purely humanitarian reasons. And we are forced to do so since society is not providing this type of healthcare," said Stålenkrantz.

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