Harbin Medical University in Heilongjiang province China is offering HIV testing kits in its updated vending machines. The move is part of an HIV prevention initiative by the Chinese Association of STD and HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control (CASAPC), which installed nine of the specialised vending machines in five universities across China last year.
Students can purchase the test kits for $4.35 (Ugx. 15,660), almost 10 times less than the average market price, and drop urine samples into a deposit drawer in the specialised machine.
CASAPC staff members retrieve the samples and conduct the tests. Students can view the results on the centre’s website by entering a unique code, according to Zhao Donghui, an HIV specialist with the association.
“The whole process is anonymous,” he was quoted as saying.
While China has a relatively low prevalence of HIV – human immunodeficiency virus – official data shows around 654,000 people in the country live with HIV or AIDS.
Young people are particularly susceptible, with recent figures highlighting a rise in HIV cases on university campuses. Around 2,320 students between the ages of 15 and 24 tested positive last year, four times the number in 2010.
The vast majority of HIV-infected youth are men, and 70 per cent are men who have sex with other men. Progress has been slow in China to address the stigma of living with HIV, and those known to have the virus face discrimination in employment, education and health care, according to global HIV charity Avert.
While the number of people taking HIV tests in China surged from 60 million in 2010 to 140 million last year, many are still reluctant to do so given the stigma surrounding HIV and homosexuality.
………. South China Morning Post