Rat Poison and HIV

Unfortunately, it’s Thanksgiving, so there isn’t much health-related content lurking around that catches my eye. But I found these articles to be quite intriguing.

In October 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report on health issues in European countries one part in which they made an strange and offending claim that Greeks are purposefully infecting themselves with HIV in order to claim state benefits. These benefits are worth about $1000 a month. The WHO has since then changed this report and admitted that there is no evidence of this being true. Though a small study did see a certain handful of people infecting themselves with HIV for the benefits, these results were not significant enough to be used to determine the general trend of the public. In the original report the offending sentence was quoted as “”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.” (link) This is quite embarrassing considering the many people who look towards the WHO for accurate reports on the health of a nation. (NY Times:original article)

In another mistake, this time made by a food safety journal, the journal has decided to retract its early publication citing that “genetically modified corn and the herbicide Roundup can cause cancer and premature death in rats” from a research paper. The original paper written by Gilles-Eric Séralini, of the University of Caen in France, had been challenged by numerous companies previously. The editor of the food safety journal did not find the report to be fraudulent or misleading, instead claimed that the paper was inconclusive. Since the study group was too small and the strain of rats used were prone to developing cancer, the editor found that the study did not provide sufficient evidence of these results.


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