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World Health Organisation Wrongly Claims Greek People Are Deliberately Giving Themselves HIV, Blames "Typo"

Quite possibly the worst typo ever.

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This fact came from a report published by the World Health Organisation, the UN's public health arm.

The full report, prepared by a team from University College London, can be found here. The claim about Greek HIV is on page 112.

Except it's not true. The WHO's head of public relations tweeted that it was actually a "typo".

Typo in @WHO report. People r not giving themselves #HIV in #Greece to get benefits. @WHO Statement out soon. @giorgosroi @zoemavroudi

Gregory Härtl


Typo in @WHO report. People r not giving themselves #HIV in #Greece to get benefits. @WHO Statement out soon. @giorgosroi @zoemavroudi

/ Via

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 per month and faster admission on to drug substitution programmes."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 statement doesn't specify exactly how the "editing error" happened, though.

The WHO say the claim was originally sourced to a reference to "accounts of deliberate self-infection by a few individuals", in this correspondence published by The Lancet. That in turn references this report, which describes self-infection as a "well-founded suspicion" about "some problem users".

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