Beware official reports: WHO “informing” about HIV in Greece
Posted by Henry Bauer on 2013/11/26
A cousin had sent me this link:
“Report: Half of new HIV cases in Greece from 2009-2011 self-inflicted to get benefits”
“A case study contained within a lengthy World Health Organization report reviewing the health inequities among European countries said Greeks may be contracting HIV intentionally in order to go on public assistance.
According to the ‘case study’ contained in the report ‘Review of social determinants and the health divide in the WHO European Region: final report,’ while suicides, homicide, and thefts increased during the Greek economic crisis, so too did the rate of HIV infection — about half of which the report says were likely self-inflicted to obtain benefits.
. . . .
‘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 programs’.”
Knowing better than to accept such second-hand accounts, I went to the WHO report itself, readily available by Googling its title. Sure enough, on p. 157:
“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”.
But there was no source cited for this statement, even though the WHO Report boasts a total of 782 references. The references (609-611) closest to this statement did not mention the allegation.
So I started to compose this blog post.
But when I returned to the Daily Caller source to quote from it, it had been updated:
“WHO recognizes that there is no evidence suggesting that deliberate self-infection with HIV goes beyond a few anecdotal cases . . .
Media Matters notes that the WHO’s analysis on the rate of self-inflicted HIV is likely a misrepresentation of a report on Greece that appeared in The Lancet . . . noting the possibility for ‘a few’ people to self-inflicted [sic] HIV as a way to obtain benefits.”
Indeed, the Lancet report (378  1457-8) says, “Many new HIV infections are also linked to an increase in prostitution (and associated unsafe sex).22 An authoritative report described accounts of deliberate self-infection by a few individuals to obtain access to benefits of €700 per month and faster admission onto drug substitution programmes.22”
That reference 22 contains (p. 4) this statement:
“8. An additional factor the committee believed worth considering is the well-founded
suspicion that some problem users are intentionally infected with HIV, because of
the benefit they are entitled to (approximately € 1,400 every two months), and
also because they are granted “exceptional admission” to the Substitution
Programme. It is well-known that the Substitution Programme has a long waiting list
and that the waiting time can be over 3-4 years. Drug users with a severe chronic
condition jump the queue and are admitted in a short period of time” [emphasis in the original].
The WHO Report actually cites this Lancet article, as reference 32, in an entirely different connection. Since it was cited, it had presumably been read by someone who had a hand in drafting the WHO Report.
Many things are wrong with the way this and other official reports are generated. Many people have something to do with them — far too many people. An official report is what happens when typically unidentified staffers convert a request from on high into a document that has to meet the purposes of propaganda in support of corporate agendas and corporate self-aggrandizement. The raison d’être of a report from WHO, UNESCO, the International Panel on Climate Change, the International Monetary Fund, etc., etc., etc., is not the dissemination of useful information, it is bureaucratic self-promotion and the providing of paid employment to a host of personnel and contractors. For a lengthier disquisition together with analyses of Reports from the World Bank, UNAIDS, and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, see chapter 8 in Dogmatism in Science and Medicine.
In the present instance, a “well-founded suspicion” that some drug addicts deliberately self-inflict with HIV became, in the WHO Report, the unequivocal statement that “about half of new HIV infections . . . [are] self-inflicted”.
WHO did issue a correction:
“In fact, what is accurate to say is that slightly more than half of the Greece’s new HIV cases are among those who inject drugs. WHO recognizes that there is no evidence suggesting that deliberate self-infection with HIV goes beyond a few anecdotal cases. The statement is the consequence of an error in the editing of the report, for which WHO apologizes.”
But this is nothing like an adequate response.
The apology is worth nothing because it accomplishes nothing, it doesn’t affect what remains in the Report. Will all copies of that Report be recalled and destroyed and a new version substituted?
Furthermore, it is obviously incorrect to blame an editing error for a statement that should never have been there in the first place. The correct information was in an article actually cited in another place in the WHO Report. To blame is the whole process by which this Report came into existence.
Among other things, that ludicrously, obviously wrong statement should have been caught by anyone who has even the most elementary and limited knowledge of the actual facts about HIV. For example, that drug addicts who share needles are less likely to become “HIV-positive” than those who don’t share needles (references at p. 86 in The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory); and that “HIV” is “distinctively difficult to transmit” (p. 131 in Robert Gallo, Virus hunting: AIDS, cancer, and the human retrovirus: a story of scientific discovery, Basic Books, 1991) — typically cited rates of transmission are on the order of a few per thousand acts of unprotected sex. So even if drug addicts want to contract “HIV”, it would be no easy matter for them to do so by sharing needles or practicing “unsafe sex”. On the other hand, they could always increase their chance of testing “HIV-positive” just by using drugs more intensively, because the drugs themselves can produce a positive result on “HIV” tests, as well as the illnesses that are said to characterize “AIDS”.