While the United States' economy is leveling off after the recession of 2008, parts of Europe -- Greece, for example -- are still struggling to recover. The country's unemployment rate is a staggering 26.9% and due to massive budget cuts, access to health care is limited. So, in order get by, some people are taking drastic actions.
A growing number of people in Greece are deliberately injecting themselves with the HIV virus in order to claim benefits. A new study has found that those taking the horrifying decision are hoping it will open the door to hundreds of euros a month in payments. The rise was found by the World Health Organisation as it carried out a study into the impact of the global economic downturn. The WHO said HIV rates had risen "significantly" in the debt-ridden country, according to Sky News. Incredibly, it found that around half of new infections were self-inflicted, meaning people have been knowingly injecting themselves with the virus. This, Sky reports, opens the way for them to claim €700 (£585) per month in benefits, and swifter access to drug rehabilitation. The HIV infection rate has tripled in ten years, latest figures show, from 434 in 2003 to 1,180 last year. The majority of infections were among men aged between 25 and 39.According to the WHO report, suicides soared by 17% in Greece between 2007 and 2009, then jumped another 25% in 2010 and another 40% in 2011.
Update, Nov. 26: WHO has retracted its claim. They now say they have no evidence to support it's report that about half of new infections in Greece were self-inflicted to claim government assistance. Instead, the agency said the report should have said that half of new infections were among intravenous drug users, and that there was "anecdotal evidence" that some new infections were self-inflicted to claim benefits, although the WHO has no evidence to support those anecdotes. "The statement is the consequence of an error in the editing of the document, for which WHO apologises," the organisation said in a statement.