Mo­bile HIV test­ing labs to hit streets in cap­i­tal

Coun­try has more than 2,000 cen­ters for those at risk, but some re­luc­tant to use them

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - BySHANJUAN shan­juan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Mo­bile HIV-test­ing ve­hi­cles will hit the streets of the cap­i­tal, pro­vid­ing free tests to young gay men in par­tic­u­lar and help­ing link the needy with fol­low-up treat­ment.

The first five elec­tric mini­cars with three seats each were launched at an art ex­hi­bi­tion held on Tues­day by the UNAIDS China of­fice and the Na­tional Cen­ter for AIDS/STD Con­trol and Preven­tion Cen­ter to mark Global Zero Dis­crim­i­na­tion Day, which fell onMarch 1.

They will travel to ar­eas fre­quented by gay men, such as cer­tain bars, bath houses and park­store­a­chout­tothe­group for in­ter­ven­tion and care, ac­cord­ing to Xiao Dong, head of the team, which cur­rently has 15 vol­un­teers.

“Some of them speak English, and for­eign­ers are wel­come to come for the free tests as well,” he added. No ID is re­quired.

Oral­swabkits are used and give re­sults in 15 min­utes, he said. Fol­low-up coun­sel­ing and re­fer­ral to treat­ment and care will be given to those who test pos­i­tive.

Wu Zun­you, head of the Na­tional Cen­ter for AIDS and Sex­u­ally Trans­mit­ted Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion, wel­comed such a pi­o­neer­ing ap­proach, say­ing “it would help sup­ple­ment cur­rent test­ing meth­ods and reach out to the sus­cep­ti­ble

Some of them speak English, and for­eign­ers are wel­come to come for the free tests as well.”

more ac­tively”.

Cur­rently, China has more than 2,000 govern­ment HIV testin­gand­coun­sel­ing out­lets for free tests, but many in­di­vid­u­als at risk, par­tic­u­larly gay men, are re­luc­tant to go.

Ac­cord­ing to Wu, the HIV epi­demic has been hit­ting young gay men hard.

Last year, among the newly de­tected HIV cases in­volv­ing male stu­dents aged 15 to 24, nearly 81 per­cent con­tracted the virus via gay sex.

How­ever, “they are dif­fi­cult to reach for in­ter­ven­tion us­ing cur­rent test­ing strate­gies”, Wu said.

Zhao Ke, editor-in-chief of gay­magazineGayspot, saidhe pre­ferred the lat­est method, cit­ing eas­ier ac­cess.

But he said many young gay men turn to mo­bile apps to find dates, so “mo­bile tech­nol­ogy should be used to reach out to them as well.”

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