The World Health Organization is backtracking furiously after reporting that about half of HIV infections in Greece between 2009 and 2011 were self-inflicted by persons looking to secure government aid.
The WHO said the statement was the result of an editing error.
“(W)hat is accurate to say is that slightly more than half of the Greece’s new HIV cases are among those who inject drugs,” the international organization said in a statement Tuesday. “WHO recognizes that there is no evidence suggesting that deliberate self-infection with HIV goes beyond a few anecdotal cases. The statement is the consequence of an error in the editing of the report, for which WHO apologizes.”
The original report stated: “HIV rates and heroin use have risen significantly, with about half of new HIV infections being self-inflicted to enable people to receive benefits of €700 ($950) per month and faster admission on to drug substitution programmes”.
Between 2010 and 2011, Greece reported a roughly 52 percent increase in new HIV infections, driven largely by persons injecting drugs.
“The causes for this increase are multifaceted,” the organization said Tuesday, adding that it works “to improve understanding of them and to recommend appropriate measures to extend the benefits of the comprehensive package of interventions for harm reduction to all people who inject drugs.”
Greece's increase in HIV infections may have a lot to do with the country’s current economic instability.
WHO said it became aware of the error after the report’s claims made international headlines.
Regardless of the editing error, rates of HIV infections have still soared in Greece since the outbreak of the 2008 financial meltdown.
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