HIV cases reaching 'epidemic' scale in Greece: officials

November 30, 2012

HIV infection among crisis-hit Greece's drug users is reaching "epidemic" proportions with recorded cases marking a 35-fold increase from 2010, health experts warned Friday.

A Greek study found 487 HIV-positive cases among intravenous drug users in the first ten months of the year compared with 206 in 2011 and 10 to 14 in 2010, a trend blamed on the country's two-year .

"The growing increase in the incidence of HIV in Greece during the last two years is assuming epidemic propoprtions" mainly among such users, a group of senior said on the eve of World AIDS Day on Saturday.

"Since 2008 intravenous drug users have faced unprecedented conditions of poverty which, have led them to using adulterated or , resulting in a large increase in intravenous use and the use of contaminated needles and syringes," the experts told a national conference on public health.

Officials monitoring the issue include the European centre for and control (ECDC), the university of Athens medical school, the state organisation against drugs and the centre for disease control.

The outbreak is currently limited to Athens, where an estimated 3,000 people inject drugs, they said.

"Given the magnitude of the ongoing outbreak, concerted action is needed to expand needle and syringe programmes in Athens," said ECDC director Mark Spenger.

"If a scale-up is not achieved, it is likely that among people who inject drugs in Athens will continue and even accelerate," he said.

The study presented on Friday also found that 19 percent of Greek drug users and 24 percent of migrant users were HIV-positive.

Over 30 percent of homeless people in the past year were also positive.

Greece has drastically cut its health budget and social support programmes amid a broader scale-back of public expenses over the last two years, a policy designed to reduce the country's debt and secure EU-IMF bailout loans.

But Spenger noted: "The cost of prevention ... will be significantly less than the provision of treatment to those who become infected."

Related Stories

Health effects of financial crisis: Omens of a Greek tragedy

October 9, 2011

There are signs that health outcomes in Greece have worsened during the financial crisis, especially in vulnerable groups. These concerns are detailed in Correspondence published Online First by The Lancet, written by Alexander ...

Dengue fever makes deadly comeback in Greece

September 4, 2012

An elderly Greek man has died from complications of dengue fever, marking a reappearance of the mosquito-borne disease 85 years after its eradication from Greece, officials said Tuesday.

Recommended for you

HVTN 505 vaccine induced antibodies nonspecific for HIV

July 30, 2015

A study by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Duke University helps explain why the candidate vaccine used in the HVTN 505 clinical trial was not protective against HIV infection ...

Vitamin D status related to immune response to HIV-1

June 15, 2015

Vitamin D plays an important part in the human immune response and deficiency can leave individuals less able to fight infections like HIV-1. Now an international team of researchers has found that high-dose vitamin D supplementation ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.