WHO releases official statement admitting error in HIV report

The World Health Organization on Tuesday published an official statement claiming that an earlier report that has been quoted by dozens of medial outlets around the world suggesting that 50 percent of all new HIV cases in Greece are self-inflicted by individuals looking to claim health benefits is erroneous.

“In September 2013, the WHO Regional Office for Europe published a report ‘Review of social determinants and the health divide in the WHO European Region’ which was prepared by the Institute of Equity, University College London, United Kingdom. In this report, an erroneous reference is made to: ‘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 euros per month and faster admission on to drug substitution programs,” the WHO’s official statement said.

“The sentence should read: ‘half of the new HIV cases are self-injecting and out of them few are deliberately inflicting the virus.’ The statement is the consequence of an error in the editing of the document, for which WHO apologizes.

“The source for the statement is a correspondence published in The Lancet by Alexander Kentikelenis and colleagues in September 2011. In this article, Kentikelenis mentions ‘accounts of deliberate self-infection by a few individuals to obtain access to benefits of 700 euros per month and faster admission onto drug substitution programs,’ based on the report of the Ad hoc expert group of the Greek focal point on the outbreak of HIV/AIDS in 2011 (Greek Documentation and Monitoring Centre for Drug, 2011),” the WHO said.

The organization adds that “Greece has reported a significant, 52 percent increase of new HIV infection in 2011 compared to the 2010, largely driven by infections among people who inject drugs in recent years.”

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