[Update: The World Health Organization made a big "editing error." See their correction here.]
There’s the gaydar test in Kuwait and “death panels” in the U.S. Now to the list of head-scratchers from the health world, you can add: ”self-inflicted” HIV.
According to a new health study that surfaced on Twitter and the economics-finance forum Zero Hedge today, about half of recently diagnosed cases of HIV infection in Greece are “self-inflicted.” WHO neglects to define “self-inflicted,” leaving all of us hopelessly confused (and incredibly concerned).
The October report, from the World Health Organization and University of College London’s Institute of Health Equity, says that people deliberately get HIV to “receive benefits of €700 per month and faster admission on to drug-substitution programs.” Greece’s severe economic crisis has made it much harder to get benefits and get a spot in a drug-rehab program. The authors add: “Prostitution has also risen, probably as a response to economic hardship.”
A closer look at the phenomenon of “self-inflicted” infections in Greece reveals a 2011 study titled “Report of the Ad Hoc Expert Group of the Greek Focal Point on the Outbreak of HIV/AIDS in 2011,” in which Greek researchers call rumors of HIV procuring “well-founded.” The authors—scientists at the University Mental Health Research Institute, a drug-monitoring organization in Greece—explain that “drug users with a severe chronic condition jump the queue and are admitted in a short period of time.”
But as with the researchers behind the WHO study, the UMHRI scientists fail to describe how those looking for HIV go about infecting themselves. They point only to an “increase in needle-sharing” and an “increase in unsafe sex practices.”
People on Twitter, always eager to offer up their own contrived theories, can’t fathom what “self-inflicted” HIV might be. They’re too busy hating on Greece’s financial crisis to be creative:
The worst part of all of this: WebMD’s no help.