Gay men find HIV drug in Thai­land, not China

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA -

he knows nearly 100 men from Bei­jing who have also trav­eled to Thai­land to pur­chase PrEP.

“It’s a pos­i­tive sign that our com­mu­nity has be­come more re­spon­si­ble for our own health, and each other’s. They are will­ing to pay out of pocket,” he said.

Thai­land is easy to visit, as Chi­nese cit­i­zens do not re­quire a visa, and the coun­try is rec­og­nized for its friend­li­ness to­ward the LGBT com­mu­nity.

It also of­fers easy, af­ford­able ac­cess to PrEP, Xiao said, who added that generic prod­ucts can cost 300 yuan ($44) for a one-month sup­ply, while brand-name prod­ucts are about 800 yuan for the same amount.

By con­trast, the brand­name drugs sell for nearly 2,000 yuan in China, said Wu Hao, di­rec­tor of the in­fec­tious dis­eases de­part­ment at Bei­jing’s You’an Hos­pi­tal.

You’an treats most of the AIDS pa­tients in Bei­jing. Last year, he said, more than 90 per­cent of the newly de­tected HIV suf­fer­ers in the cap­i­tal were gay men.

Ac­cord­ing to Wu, who spe­cial­izes in sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases, the ef­fi­cacy of PrEP has been widely rec­og­nized in­ter­na­tion­ally. It has been in­cluded in the HIV/ AIDS pre­ven­tion and treat­ment guide­lines of the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion and health au­thor­i­ties in the United States.

How­ever, Wu said, China has not yet in­tro­duced PrEP in its na­tional guide­lines. In ad­di­tion, he ruled out the pos­si­bil­ity that the gov­ern­ment would give the drugs free to will­ing sub­jects, largely be­cause of the high costs in­volved.

Wu’s de­part­ment will launch a year­long PrEP re­search study this sum­mer with the cen­ter, re­cruit­ing 600 to 1,000 gay men and giv­ing them free PrEP drugs.

“I wel­come PrEP as pre­ven­tion for those who are at high risk of in­fec­tion, given that con­dom use is low, par­tic­u­larly among gay men in China,” he said.

Now, it’s more ef­fi­cient. We send 95 per­cent of the peo­ple home, com­pared with about 80 per­cent be­fore.” Kang Qing­ping, shel­ter worker in Shang­hai

The Shang­hai Civil Af­fairs Bureau runs 16 shel­ters across the city. To­gether they helped more than 20,000 peo­ple re­turn home last year. The Huangpu shel­ter ac­counted for about half. About 6 per­cent were se­niors and the rest were ju­ve­niles and mi­grant work­ers.

Shel­ters are also us­ing the in­ter­net more, through so­cial me­dia and web­sites.

In April, Xin­hua News Agency re­ported that the Huangpu shel­ter had helped a man re­con­nect with his fam­ily af­ter two decades. The 72-year-old, sur­named Liang, was brought in by po­lice and could only re­mem­ber that his home­town was Taizhou, a city in Zhe­jiang prov­ince.

So­cial work­ers got in touch with news web­site Toutiao, which sent a no­ti­fi­ca­tion to reg­is­tered users in Taizhou. That led to his daugh­ter get­ting in touch. Af­ter a DNA test proved pos­i­tive, he was ac­com­pa­nied home on the train.

Liang’s mother, who is 95, had said she thought she would never see her son again.

Kang, the shel­ter worker, said that such peo­ple are usu­ally helped in a tra­di­tional way — lis­ten­ing to their ac­cent, search­ing per­sonal be­long­ings, ask­ing ques­tions and co­op­er­at­ing with public se­cu­rity of­fi­cers.

Be­fore be­ing iden­ti­fied, peo­ple can stay in the shel­ter. About 37 va­grants are there now. Among them, sev­eral are from other coun­tries.

He Qi in Shang­hai con­trib­uted to this story.

LONG YUANBIN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Stu­dents in Miao eth­nic cos­tumes try to catch a silk ball at a cul­tural event at a mid­dle school in Ton­gren, Guizhou prov­ince, on Mon­day. More than 2,000 stu­dents took part in the event. The city has added eth­nic cul­ture to its school cur­ricu­lum.

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