- Title: Chinese charities roll out testing as number of young HIV and AIDS sufferers go up
- Date: 30th November 2016
- Summary: PICTURES ON WALL
- Embargoed: 15th December 2016 01:20
- Keywords: China charities young people AIDS HIV
- Location: BEIJING AND SICHUAN PROVINCE, CHINA
- City: BEIJING AND SICHUAN PROVINCE, CHINA
- Country: China
- Reuters ID: LVA0025AMWFGL
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Xiao Ji's life was turned upside down when at just 25 he was diagnosed HIV positive.
Working at the time as an animal trainer, he says he has no idea how or when he was infected, he only found out he was carrying the disease after a visit to a hospital when he was feeling sick.
"When I was first confirmed (as having HIV) it wasn't because I intentionally went to get tested, it was when I was having treatment for an illness in hospital the hospital just did a test without telling me and when the results came out, they then refused to treat me," he said, adding that he doesn't know how many people he may have infected.
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, which is incurable. If left untreated, it can lead to the disease AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), which can be fatal.
Xiao Ji, who declined to give his full name, is a member of the group in Chinese society with the fastest growth rate of cases - young males aged 15 to 24.
China had more than 500,000 HIV and AIDS patients in 2014, according to data from the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
While overall China has made progress in combating the increase in HIV/AIDS rates amongst previous high risk groups such as drug users, the number of high school and university students with the virus increased 35 percent over 2011 to 2015, according to state media.
The increases have been particularly high among male same sex couples. In the eight years from 2006 to 2014 the percentage of HIV and AIDS sufferers who contracted the disease through male homosexual activities increased from just 2.5% to 25.8%, data from the National Health and Family Planning Commission also showed.
The rate of increase amongst the younger population has become so alarming that one university started selling testing kits in vending machines on campus.
Along with fizzy drinks and snacks, students can now buy a D.I.Y. testing kit at the Southwestern Petroleum University in Sichuan, the province with the second-highest prevalence of AIDS, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
The testing devices are supplied by the Chinese association of STD and AIDS prevention and control, a national NGO. The organization did not respond to a request for interview.
Other organizations are also helping to head off the increase by spreading the word about the importance of getting tested.
Danlan, a Beijing-based organisation, offers testing and lectures for young people. The organisation's Executive Director, Huang Chenzi says in some ways the progress organisations such as his have made in getting people tested may account for the increase in the number of cases.
"Right now there are more and more people doing HIV tests. We also mobilized through various media and the internet to give people enough information to make them know they need a HIV test. In the past these people might not get tested. They wouldn't know the nature of their infection. And so when they get to the age of 30 and test positive, they're already of an older age, and not young anymore. So the scope at which we mobilized (for our research) wasn't near as big as it was after the internet came along," he said.
Still, NGO workers and activists know there is work to be done in educating young people about preventing the disease.
Students on a Beijing campus showed varying degrees of knowledge about the disease when asked about it.
"Firstly for blood you have to make sure that when you get injections your needle and other medical equipment are not used carelessly. And then when it comes to sex you must take precautions," said Shi Shuo who is studying for a Masters in International Politics.
"For me, I think preventing AIDS mainly you need to... on the outside... I'm sorry I really don't know," said Wang Ziyu, also reading the same course.
International AIDS day is on December 1.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2016. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: Video restrictions: parts of this video may require additional clearances. Please see ‘Business Notes’ for more information.