Cam­pus sells HIV test­ing kits in vend­ing ma­chines

Stu­dents can get re­sults con­fi­den­tially, while the ap­pa­ra­tus costs just 30 yuan

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By HUANG ZHILING in Chengdu huangzhiling @chi­nadaily.com.cn

Stu­dents at South­west Pe­tro­leum Uni­ver­sity are able to pur­chase cheap HIV test kits from vend­ing ma­chines on cam­pus, which also sell ed­i­ble goods such as in­stant noo­dles.

The kit, which costs 30 yuan ($4.40), con­sists of a plas­tic cup and a plas­tic tube. The user uri­nates into the cup and then draws the urine up into the tube, which has a se­rial num­ber.

The user can then re­turn the tube con­tain­ing their urine to the vend­ing ma­chine through a spe­cific slot. Stu­dent volunteers from the uni­ver­sity’s anti-AIDS of­fice check the two vend­ing ma­chines twice a day to col­lect re­turned tubes.

The tubes are sent to the uni­ver­sity hospi­tal, which in turn sends them to the cen­ter of dis­ease con­trol and pre­ven­tion in Xindu district of Chengdu, Sichuan province, where the uni­ver­sity is lo­cated.

“The cen­ter, which does not know the names of those sub­mit­ting urine sam­ples, an­nounces which se­rial num­bers are HIV pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive. A stu­dent can find out whether they are HIV pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive by check­ing the re­sults for their se­rial num­ber,” said Zheng Weirong, chief of the uni­ver­sity hospi­tal’s gen­eral of­fice.

The kit, which was first put on sale in the two vend­ing ma­chines at the uni­ver­sity in July, is part of a pi­lot project ini­ti­ated by the China As­so­ci­a­tion of STD/AIDS Pre­ven­tion and Con­trol to com­bat the ris­ing in­ci­dence of HIV and AIDS among peo­ple aged 18 to 25, Zheng said.

Ac­cord­ing to the Joint United Na­tions Pro­gram on HIV and AIDS, China had 654,000 peo­ple with HIV at the end of Septem­ber, and the in­fec­tion rate among young stu­dents is ris­ing. The most com­mon cause of in­fec­tion has shifted from drug-tak­ing to sex.

“Sex­u­ally ac­tive young peo­ple face many temp­ta­tions, which can be a re­sult of par­tak­ing in friend-mak­ing plat­forms on the in­ter­net, which fa­cil­i­tate one-night stands and un­pro­tected sex,” Zheng said.

After un­pro­tected sex, many stu­dents do not go to hos­pi­tals or the cen­ter of dis­ease con­trol and pre­ven­tion in Xindu for checks, be­cause they are afraid of a lack of con­fi­den­tial­ity. But now, thanks to the avail­abil­ity of the test kit, their pri­vacy can be pro­tected, she said.

If stu­dents are found to be HIV pos­i­tive and seek treat­ment early, their lives can be pro­longed and a de­cent qual­ity of life can be achieved, she said.

The uni­ver­sity has posted an video on­line to teach stu­dents how to use the kit.

Feng Lei, a sopho­more ma­jor­ing in re­source ex­plo­ration, is a vol­un­teer with the uni­ver­sity anti-AIDS of­fice. He was in charge of col­lect­ing the tubes from the vend­ing ma­chines on cam­pus for a month.

The timid 20-year-old from Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui au­tonomous re­gion, said he did find tubes in the ma­chines dur­ing that month, but de­clined to dis­close how many.

Ac­cord­ing to Li Yang, an in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer at the uni- ver­sity, the pi­lot project is be­ing im­ple­mented at 20 uni­ver­si­ties in 16 prov­inces, one mu­nic­i­pal­ity and two au­tonomous re­gions.

“The kit is only avail­able in vend­ing ma­chines at uni­ver­si­ties in Bei­jing, Yun­nan, Hei­long jiang and Sichuan prov­inces. South­west Pe­tro­leum Uni­ver­sity is the first and only uni­ver­sity in Sichuan to have the kit,” he said.

Feng said that when the kit was first made avail­able at South­west Pe­tro­leum Uni­ver­sity in July, he and many class­mates were sur­prised.

“Thanks to public­ity given to the kits by the uni­ver­sity, we have learned more about them and deem them nec­es­sary,” Feng said.

LIU CHANG / FOR CHINA DAILY

HUANG ZHILING / CHINA DAILY

A doc­tor at South­west Pe­tro­leum Uni­ver­sity shows an HIV test kit avail­able for pur­chase on cam­pus.

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