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University provides HIV testing kits in vending machine

Reporter: Liu Yang 丨 CCTV.com

12-01-2016 12:43 BJT

Students from a Chinese college in Sichuan province recently noticed the sale of HIV testing kits in a vending machines. The tests can be done discreetly and anonymously. The pilot project has been widely praised by both students and experts in spreading awareness.

It is as simple as pressing a button and costs little more than U.S.$4.40 (30 RMB). HIV testing kits are now available in a vending machine at Southwest Petroleum University in Sichuan Province. The university also posted an instructional video online to teach students how to do the test. Experts say the approach helps protect students' privacy.

“After high-risk sexual behavior, one might deliberate and not test immediately. With HIV testing kits sold in the vending machine, privacy is well protected, and the test is convenient to purchase,” said Zhang Jihong, director of Southwest Petroleum University Hospital.

Students can use the test to send a urine sample to a laboratory, and then access the results online. This can all be done completely anonymously.

The pilot project was initiated by China Association of STD/AIDS Prevention and Control. The program is particularly designed for college students and has spread to universities in Beijing, Yunnan, Sichuan, and Heilongjiang. Students from the university’s AIDS association say the approach is necessary.

“I think for many students, fear is harder to accept. We know that the disease is incurable, I think it is necessary to have those HIV testing kits available in college,” said Wang Shiyao, student of Southwest Petroleum University.

“Students called in asking questions like ‘what is AIDS?’ ‘How does the disease spread?’ ‘Among the three ways of transmission, which one is the most common?’ I think we need to know that using condoms is the most effective way to protect us from getting infected by the HIV virus,” said Feng Lei, student of Southwest Petroleum University.

Experts say despite widespread availability of HIV testing, only around 51 percent of the estimated 37 million people living with HIV around the world know their status. It Is believed most young people infected with HIV in China have not received proper education about the disease.

UNAIDS says China has 654,000 people living with HIV by the end of September 2016. Infection rates among young students in particular is getting higher. The most common means of infection has also shifted from injection drug transmission to sexual transmission.

“Let the students be aware of the importance of testing, if students realize they are infected, they can get medical treatment immediately, save their lives, and save others. The second benefit is by knowing they are infected and accepting treatment, they can lower the HIV RNA, and cut the transmission of the HIV virus,” said Zhang Jianxin, chairman of International Aids Alliance Advisory Committee.

On this 29th World AIDS Day, students say the red ribbons are not just a symbol, it is also a wish for more people to pay attention to AIDS prevention and protecting themselves from being infected. 

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