HIV+ brothel clients to be exposed?

As five men alleged to have had unprotected sex with HIV+ prostitutes in Athens tested positive for the virus on Wednesday, Health Minister Andreas Loverdos reiterated his call for the criminalization of unprotected sex at brothels and proposed that photographs of the clients be made public along with those of the infected sex workers.

The men were among 100 people to undergo HIV tests at the Hellenic Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO). Meanwhile more than 6,000 people are said to have called KEELPNO’s helpline to seek advice or HIV testing after having unprotected sex while private health facilities have conducted twice as many HIV tests in the last two weeks than usual.

A total of 31 prostitutes working in Athens have tested positive for the virus since late April, when it became compulsory for sex workers to supply blood for testing. A total of 250 sex workers have undergone tests and more are being asked to do so by authorities.

At a press conference on Wednesday Loverdos said that testing would continue at the same rate with the aim of “significantly curbing” the virus by the end of the month.

Noting that “AIDS has spread beyond the ghettos and entered Greek society,” Loverdos said his ministry would persevere in fighting it despite protests against the initiative. He said KEELPNO officials had received anonymous threats and that anti-KEELPNO graffiti had been found on the walls of his ministry.

Loverdos also reiterated his call for clients of brothels who have had unprotected sex to be charged with felonies, as was the case for prostitutes found to be HIV+.

The decision last month to make public the photographs of HIV-infected sex workers prompted public outrage but authorities insisted that public health overrides individual privacy concerns. 

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