Over the past two weeks thousands of men have been visiting private doctors' offices to learn whether they are infected by the HIV virus, which causes AIDS, since they had sex with prostitutes without using protection.
In private clinics work has increased 10 times after it was found that so far there are 36 HIV positive prostitutes and most likely their number will increase further.
The increased volume of work in private clinics is due to two factors. On the one hand, state clinics and specialized infectious hospital wards can take a limited number of patients. On the other hand, people prefer the private sector, because there they feel they can remain anonymous and therefore more secure.
"Lately infectious wards in hospitals are struggling to work, because from 2011 onwards HIV-positive drug users, who have multiple health problems, have increased. Our hospital cannot assist all those people. Some wards can, but others cannot," says the head of pathology department at "Evangelismos" hospital, Athanasios Skoutelis.
The outpatient’s department in the hospital constantly monitors 800 HIV positive. Also, twice a week a system of anonymous control is applied. This system includes all men, who in recent weeks have turned to the hospital to undergo AIDS tests. Previously 30 people per week were tested there and today their number has increased to 50.
"We are trying to assist all, but when this is impossible we send them to other departments or tell them to come another day", said Skoutelis, noting that tere are not more than 12 specialized infectious departments in Attica.
According to the superintendent of specialized infectious ward of the hospital "Andreas Singros" Vassilis Paparizos, there has been increased activity in the ward lately.
"Unfortunately we are unable to assist all those who come to our department, because many have not understood what they have done and thus they come to us to test themselves. This is a "herd" of panicked men...".
For his part, the head of the infectious ward of "Erithros" hospital Marios Lazanas agrees that there is some increase in those wishing to test themselves in hospitals, but notes that the system is not congested, because for the most part, people are turning to private clinics. As he explains, many people feel better when they visit private clinics, rather than a state hospital.
In the last year or two "high risk" groups of citizens – namely drug addicts and prostitutes - have formed an "explosive mixture".
As the President of the Organization Against Drugs Meni Maliori notes, in 2012 the number of HIV positive drug addicts has increased. The forecast is that by the end of the year the number of HIV positive drug users will exceed the number of HIV positive homosexuals, who until recently were holding the first place.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention of Disease in 2011 340 HIV-positive homosexuals were registered and 241 carriers of HIV drug users. The situation turned in the first quarter of this year. HIV positive homosexuals are no more than 85, while drug addicts carrying the AIDS virus are now 115.