Correction: Greeks are not giving themselves HIV to get government benefits

World Health Organization | Media Matters for America

A September 2013 World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe report said “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 per month and faster admission on to drug substitution programmes.”

Fox Business, The Daily Caller and Al Jazeera all repeated that ghastly news.

Whoops! The World Health Organization published a correction Tuesday:

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.

So how did a flawed report become weird news fodder? Media Matters for America cites a Rush Limbaugh broadcast Monday that was itself based on a New Statesman report (since corrected).

MMFA's Todd Gregory notes the WHO report incorrectly cited a 2011 study that referred to “accounts of deliberate self-infection by a few individuals." WHO's correction acknowledges that was the source of its error.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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