This year, China plans to step up the fight against HIV. That’s good news for those in the areas surrounding China, including Singapore, since actions taken by the Chinese government help to raise awareness and stimulate other governments in the region to do more to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. China plans to make self-testing kits like what France is doing, available across the country.
Prevention and Early Detection
HIV is a growing problem around the world. It spreads through contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids, specifically through sexual contact. It can also be transmitted via an infected shared needle, or from a parent to a newborn. If HIV isn’t identified and addressed quickly, it can significantly shorten the sufferer’s life span, compromising the immune system and leading to AIDS.
Of course, governments have prevention plans in place, promoting awareness of the risks and suggesting that individuals use various kinds of protection against HIV and other STDs. However, another way to fight the spread of HIV is to catch it early, right after someone has been infected. That’s what China’s new initiative focuses on— helping at-risk individuals find out if they are HIV positive very soon after the exposure event.
Screening and Social Stigma
Currently, the Chinese government offers free HIV screening at 2,000 clinics across the country. In spite of the free testing that’s available, many people still refuse to visit these clinics, even if they know they are at risk. They may be afraid that their HIV-positive condition will be confirmed beyond a doubt. They may be nervous about the social stigma that often accompanies such a diagnosis.
Self-Testing Pilot Projects
To alleviate some of those fears and concerns, China is now promoting self-testing kits. Right now, these kits are only available for medical professionals to use, but the government is discussing the potential for sales online and through drugstores.
The initial pilot projects for the self-testing initiative is already under way. Certain drugstores in Beijing’s Shijingshan district have the self-testing kits, and some cities in Yunnan province are selling them in select drugstores as well.
With a self-testing kit, you can test yourself for HIV at home. There is no need to go to a clinic, where someone might recognise you and spread the word that you have the virus. For some users, this is a significant advantage.
There are some questions about the reliability of the new self-testing kits. One user claimed to have gotten a negative and a positive result using two different tests from the same kit. Hopefully, as the need for such kits increases, so will the quality of the technology used in the kits. The companies producing the kits are coming under pressure to improve the tests’ accuracy and make them more user-friendly.
Do you suspect that you may have HIV? If you think you may have been recently exposed to the virus, don’t wait. Act now and visit Shim Clinic to get yourself tested. HIV does respond to antiretroviral treatment, but for that treatment to be effective you need to start it as soon as possible. At Shim Clinic, your HIV testing is done quickly and confidentially. If you have a positive result, we’ll advise you about the next step for treatment. If your result is negative, you can breathe a sigh a of relief and get back to normal life.