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Health Minister: Expose the Men Who Had Sex With HIV Infected Prostitutes

Athens is dealing with an HIV epidemic sweeping the streets of the town’s historic center, while the rest of Greece is dumbfounded by the sad truth confirming the alarming rise of HIV cases.
After the media release of the photos and names of 12 alleged prostitutes who have tested HIV positive, another five people were added to the carriers’ list by KEELPNO (Centre for the Control and Prevention of Diseases).
In an emergency press conference yesterday, KEELPNO officials said that the center’s hotline had already received more than 1,600 calls by men who had had sex with the identified women. According to KEELPNO chairwoman Jenny Kremastinou, the Center provides anti-retroviral therapy to those who claim to have been infected within the last 48 hours.
Kremastinou also noted that several men who called for medical advice were married, aged between 35-45 years-old. Three young men who had unprotected sex with the Russian 22-year-old prostitute in the past few days are already undergoing HIV treatment.
The shocking numbers have caused both social and political turmoil in the country before the crucial May 6 elections.
At a Wednesday press conference, Greek Health Minister Andreas Loverdos put 50 percent of the blame on the “negligent” customers who had unprotected sex in uncontrolled areas and then returned to their stable relationships.
The upset Minister said the customers’ pictures should also be made public because they are equally responsible for spreading the virus. Loverdos called the men “donkeys” for their irresponsible behavior and negligence in estimating the grave danger of getting an infectious disease and transmitting it to their wives, partners and children.
The Medical Association of Athens commented that AIDS is rapidly spreading in the country the past few years, while it accused the Health Ministry for not having taken the necessary measures and campaigns to inform and protect the public from such phenomena.
The economic crisis in combination with the cuts in heath care against infectious diseases, and the transcontinental transportation of large groups of people living or coming from a low health conditions background, have led to the dramatic and out of control spreading of several infectious diseases in Greece. Statistics show that AIDS alone has recorded over a 50 percent increase in 2011, with 7.1 percent of HIV infections in every 100,000.
Loverdos called for the criminalization of unprotected sex with prostitutes, since unprotected intercourse is a grave danger to public health. According to the Health Minsiter and the Minister of Citizen Protection, Michalis Chrysochoidis, the human right of medical confidentiality of the individual was contradictory in this case with the social right of the health of those directly or indirectly connected to the infected people. “The wives, girlfriends and partners of the men who had unprotected sex with a prostitute are not to blame. Who will protect these blameless people?,” noted the Minister.
On May 20, a team of experts from abroad will visit the Greek capital in order to assess the escalating situation. KEELPNO is still carrying out health checks in Athens downtown.
Kremastinou emphasized the immediate need to promote safe sex and put extra effort on developing a stable relationship model between people.
The President of the Organization Against Drugs (OKANA) Meni Malliori, noted that the female carriers of HIV who are also substance abusers are steadily rising in numbers because they tend to become prostitutes to secure their next dose. According to recent surveys, women with addiction problems can have sex with five to ten men on a daily basis.
In November 2011, Nikos Dedes, an advisor to the HIV Committee at the World Health Organization (WHO), had said that while most HIV cases in Greece are still transmitted through unprotected homosexual sex, the risks through heterosexual sex are rising.
“The HIV situation in Greece is like a dry forest in summer which has just been hit with a gust of wind. It could go up in flames any minute,” noted Dedes..

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