WHO: Sorry, Our Alarming Claim About HIV in Greece Is Wrong

Hordes of people aren't infecting themselves to get benefits, says agency
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 26, 2013 1:06 PM CST
A man holds up a syringe and citric acid sachet at a needle-exchange facility in Athens.   (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

(Newser) – This part is not in dispute: Greece has seen a worrisome spike in HIV cases, with the number up 52% in 2011 from 2010. But in a report last month, the World Health Organization made a jaw-dropping assertion, that about half of the new cases were the result of people deliberately infecting themselves so they could collect about $1,000 a month in benefits, reports the Washington Post. Today, WHO published what Sky News calls a "humiliating" correction: Turns out, that claim is utterly untrue.

WHO chalks it up to an editing error. While it is true that more than half of the new cases involve people who inject drugs, "there is no evidence suggesting that deliberate self-infection with HIV goes beyond a few anecdotal cases," it explains. The original WHO report cited a study in the Lancet about those "few" cases, and it somehow got translated into "half" of new cases in the resulting report.

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