The World Health Organisation (WHO), which investigated the impact of the economic downturn on countries across Europe, said HIV rates had risen “significantly” in the debt-ridden country.
It said about half of new HIV infections were self-inflicted, allowing people to receive benefits of €700 (£585) per month, as well as faster admission onto drug rehabilitation programmes.
Prostitution also increased, “probably as a response to economic hardship”, it said, adding that Greeks were less likely than they were in 2007 to visit a doctor or dentist when they were feeling unwell.
Figures from the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, also known as Keelpno, showed the HIV infection rate in Greece has nearly tripled in 10 years – up from 3.9 in every 100,000 people in 2003 to 10.9 in 2012.
There were 1,180 HIV infections last year compared with 434 in 2003, while the disease was transmitted through injections in around a tenth (8.9%) of cases in 2012.
The majority of infections (53%) occur among Greek men aged 25-39.
A spokesman for the WHO said: “These adverse trends in Greece pose a warning to other countries undergoing significant fiscal austerity, including Spain, Ireland and Italy.
“It also suggests that ways need to be found for cash-strapped governments to consolidate finances without undermining much-needed investments in health.”
Professor Jenny Kourea-Kremastinou, the president of Keelpno, said there had been an “unprecedented increase” throughout 2011 and 2012 in the number of Greeks injecting themselves with drugs.
“It is widely known that HIV epidemics in the population of drug injectors are a complex phenomenon and any effort to stop them faces considerable difficulties, especially in an era of (large-scale) socio-economic changes,” she said in the group’s latest HIV/AIDS study.
“Taking into consideration this situation, public health surveillance and the evaluation of relevant prevention interventions are more crucial and necessary than ever.”
Greece is going through its sixth consecutive year of recession amid brutal austerity cuts.
The country has twice been bailed out by the international community, although its draft budget for 2014 predicts economic growth of 0.6% next year.