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May10

Why China Is selling cheap HIV tests in campus vending machines.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017 Written by // Guest Authors - Revolving Door Categories // Social Media, Current Affairs, Youth, International , Media, Revolving Door, Guest Authors

But not many are buying. From NPR.org, Emily Feng reports.

Why China Is selling cheap HIV tests in campus vending machines.

HIV testing kits in a vending machine in a university in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. Reuters

To read the complete article by Emily Feng, visit NPR.org, here.

Vending machines are selling increasingly novel items: cupcakeslive crabs and fresh baguettes. In China, you can now add HIV testing kits to that list. China is piloting the use of vending machines that sell HIV testing kits on university campuses. The goal is to reach students who may be reluctant to go to a clinic for a test because of the stigma of contracting HIV.

The experimental program began last year on five college campuses in the city of Beijing as well as Harbin, Guangxi and Heilongjiang provinces. Local media just recently publicized it. Users pay the equivalent of a little over $4 for a kit with a container for a urine sample that can be dropped off anonymously at a receptacle in the machine that dispenses the test. Users can check their results online in 10 to 15 days.

HIV/AIDS activists in China have lauded the vending machines as a positive step for encouraging more people to get tested. "Helping people to run a test for themselves like a take-home pregnancy test would be very helpful," says Martin Yang, a program manager at the Beijing Gender Health Education Institute, one of the first Chinese nongovernmental groups to focus on issues related to gender, sexuality and sexual health.

In China, homosexuality is still a taboo — listed as a mental illness until 2001, forbidden from film scenes. Because of its association with homosexuality, HIV/AIDS is effectively a taboo subject as well. Official data show around 654,000 people in the country live with HIV or AIDS, though researchers believe the actual number is likely higher.

Patients with HIV or AIDS say they are routinely turned away from hospitals and clinics when they seek care, despite regulations that explicitly forbid that kind of discrimination. Last July, phone scammers blackmailed hundreds of people with HIV or AIDS after obtaining their personal information through a data leak and threatening to reveal their identities if they didn't pay up.

That societal stigma has made promoting HIV/AIDS awareness and testing extremely difficult.

To read the complete article by Emily Feng, visit NPR.org, here.

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