A new World Health Organization report contains a truly shocking claim: roughly a half of new HIV infections in Greece are self-inflicted to get the monthly 700 euro payment for those with AIDS. It is the sign of the desperation felt by many in the country to get government benefits after the austerity measures required under European bailout agreements. The report also says that suicides are up 17 percent between 2007 and 2009 and then another 25% in 2010. In 2011, they were up another 40%. Now WHO has withdrawn the claim and says that there is no evidence to support it.
Unemployment in the country is now 26.9% and health care access has been slashed 40 percent.
The WHO figure relies on a 2011 report by the University Mental Health Research Institute that found evidence that large numbers of people were “intentionally infected with HIV, because of the benefit that are entitled to (approximately 1,400 euros every two months).”
It is astonishing that WHO would tell the world of this alarming practice and then say “There may be anecdotal evidence [of self-inflicted HIV infections], but no evidence as such.” Exactly how could such a provocative finding be lost in careless editing or drafting in an international health document released to the world community?
The thought of such of desperate calculation was crushing. Now the withdrawal of the claim by one of the largest international organizations in the world adds an element of true absurdity. Either way, it is a true Greek tragedy.
“Leave me to my own absurdity.”
― Sophocles, Antigone