Nigel Campbell's picture

Greece Reinstates Mandatory HIV Testing

Greece has re-instituted mandatory HIV testing for high-risk groups, a decision that is getting a very negative reaction from human rights groups who maintain that sex workers, drug users, and undocumented migrants will be unfairly targeted under the policy and may be dissuaded from voluntary testing.

Greek Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis explains the decision: “The main concern of the Hellenic Government remains the shielding of the nation against public health threats, especially in a country like Greece with an annual massive tourist influx. Thus, the government’s political decision to issue a specific health regulation was deemed incumbent in order to both secure interventions concerning emerging and re-emerging diseases at a global level as well as enhance the response to local events of public health significance in high risk populations.”

Healthline relayed Doctors of the World's denouncement of the mandatory testing:

“This decree is a serious violation of basic human rights, human dignity, and medical ethics,” the statement reads. “It goes against the recommendations of international public health specialists and human rights bodies, including those from the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, the European Centre for Disease Control, and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency.”

According to Doctors of the World, the decree also states that any occupants of housing which “may cause danger to public health” should be evicted from their homes, without any alternative offered. The group called on medical professionals in Greece to refuse to carry out the mandatory testing.

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The World Health Organization agrees with Doctors of the World. WHO senior advisor, Dr. Rafael Mazin explains, “Coercion or pressure not only violates people’s capacity to make informed and voluntary decisions, but also threatens other aspects critical to their treatment, such as retention in the health system and medication adherence. Mandatory testing can produce negative health outcomes, such as mistrust of the health system, fear, stress, failure to recognize the advantages of an early diagnosis, and failures in treatment and in complete viral suppression.”

What do you think of Greece's decision, Instincters? Is mandatory HIV testing a violation of individual rights? Could it be beneficial? Will this backfire?