Gay men find HIV drug in Thailand, not 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.
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.