Greek authorities released the name and pictures (along with other personal info) of 17 HIV- positive sex workers, who allegedly provided their services illegally, accusing them for intentional bodily harm. The incident attracted media attention and the women swiftly became subject of mockery, making headlines as “public health timebomb”. In an attempt to crackdown unlicensed brothels prior to the elections, hundreds of alleged sex workers across the country are being screened for the virus by the state-run Center for Diseases’ Control & Prevention. The agency has been reportedly receiving numerous telephone inquiries about sex and safety issues from men seeking to be tested as well. In an interview at Net Radio, Health Minister Andreas Loverdos underlined the severity of “AIDS time bomb” which “has now spread outside immigrant ghettos“, although he did his best to tackle the issue on time.
We are used to seeing the familiar narrative of a “social menace” that requires state and media intervention to protect citizens from “disaster”. It’s the backbone of “fear culture” and this story of foreign sex workers who were found to be HIV-positive, triggered racist comments against them. However human rights advocates condemned the violation of medical confidentiality and the ruthless stigmatization of women, with apparent signs of abuse, who sell their body for a living. Following undocumented immigrants, sex workers come to fill the “scapegoat scenario” that stirs up media frenzy in an attempt to boost falling popularity ratings of PASOK leaders. It is estimated though that there won’t be a clear winner on tomorrow’s elections and the country might go for a second round within months.