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Opening Arguments

HIV on purpose

This is kind of scary, but I'm not quite sure what to make of it:

A recent World Health Organization report paints an alarming picture regarding the health implications of Europe’s economic crisis, including how some Greek citizens are infecting themselves with HIV in order to receive 700 euros in government benefits.

[. . .]

According to the WHO report, suicides soared by 17% in Greece between 2007 and 2009 and then another 25% in 2010. As the crisis deepened in the first half of 2011, suicide attempts surged 40%.

Moreover, the WHO report said HIV rates have risen “significantly” and estimates that about half of new HIV infections are self-inflicted “to enable people to receive benefits of 700 euros per month and faster admission” to drug-substitution programs.

The report is from the United Nations, so it's best to take those numbers with a grain of salt. And I wouldn't make too much of this as an example of the dependence culture that is the welfare state. But the idea that anyone -- let alone half of the new patients -- would deliberately infect himself with a potentially deadly disease just for a few hundred bucks a month in benefits is more than a little dismaying.

UPDATE: Make that a whole shaker full of salt:

But on Tuesday, the WHO said it had overstated the percentage of documented self-inflicted cases, writing, “WHO recognizes that there is no evidence suggesting that deliberate self-infection with HIV goes beyond a few anecdotal cases. WHO also recognizes that Greece reported a significant increase (52 percent) in new HIV infections from 2010 to 2011, largely driven by infections among people who inject drugs”