Greece to Hand out Needles, Condoms in AIDS Fight

The Greek government announced Tuesday that it will begin harm reduction measures, including handing out condoms and needles to heroin addicts, in an effort to slow an alarming rise in new HIV cases, Agence-France Presse reported. The government anti-drug organization Okana and volunteer organizations will hand out 30,000 condoms and 10,000 needles as part of the effort, which will be initially launched in Athens.

view of the Acropolis at sunset (
"There is an imperative need for immediate action to limit the spread of infection," deputy health minister Michalis Timosidis said in a parliamentary document.

Greek health officials had reported in November that new HIV cases were up by 52.7% last year over 2010. The government center for disease control and prevention said over 800 new cases had been recorded through October 2011.

A third of the new cases were reported among gay men, but officials said most new cases were linked to prostitution and intravenous drug use. The number of new HIV infections among heroin users increased a whopping 1,250% in a year, the disease control center said.

Because of the economic crisis, Greece has been forced to radically cut social spending to eliminate budget deficits in order to receive loans from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. Those spending cuts have seen staff layoffs and mergers in the health sector, which doctors said are weakening the effectiveness of the Greek health care system.

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Gorilla in the health room: $igarettes

I am sorry about the cuts described here, I think HIV prevention is a big issue, I agree health care promotes a healthy economy-- but I saw something in a Wikipedia article some months ago which focuses the issue for me.  A list of European countries' percentages of adult $igarette addiction showed GREECE at the top with over 40%.  (Hey folks is that a coincidence?)

It seems nobody wants to admit how immense the $igarette addiction problem is.  (Start with the death toll worse than heroin, cocaine, alcohol, hospitals and all others put together...)  Instead, stop-smoking agencies, trumpeting their moral schemes for total abstinence, congratulate themselves on the reductions in recent decades-- US from over 40% to under 20% now.  Yes, Greece was even worse than 40% at one time.

Bertold Brecht said: "Gut, das ist das Stueck Brot; aber wo ist der ganze Laib?"  Why is it so hard to get rid of the LAST HALF of the puffsucker slavery?

What if cannabis were legalized worldwide and-- watch this-- VAPORIZERS and ONE-HITTERS replaced the 700-mg $igarette sledge hammer abuse "smoking" dosage format?  $igarettes make youngsters numb and careless about physical risk-taking-- such as hypodermic needle stickage.  If cannabis users worldwide no longer fear to be seen using a long-stemed single-toke utensil, and the "joint" disappears from use, followed by the $igarette, interest in injecting painkillers, snorting harsh powders etc. might also crash.  Who knows, risky sex practices might also disappear from the repertory?

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