HIV Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), an emergency drug taken over a four-week course has proven to be effective in reducing HIV infection by over 80% if taken correctly.
The most important factor that determines how well PEP will work is the period between exposure and commencement of the treatment. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), PEP is most effective if administered within 72 hours of exposure. PEP contains the same formulation for antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) that are used to treat people who are HIV positive.
However, in most countries such as China, getting access to PEP in good time is nearly impossible for most people especially those at high risk. According to the Chinese national guidelines, PEP is only available free of charge in local disease control centres to healthcare workers and police officers exposed to HIV during work related activities.
For other people, PEP is available through very limited official channels such as Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center and Beijing Ditan Hospital. The drug is not available free in such hospitals and will cost you about 5,000 yuan ($750) for a physical checkup and the 28 days PEP course.
HIV Cases Among Young People Going Up
HIV cases seem to be going up among sexually active young people in China. According to national reports, the number of HIV cases among students between the ages of 15 and 24 had increased by 35% in 2015.
Though PEP is fairly new in China and especially to the public, there seems to be increased awareness of the emergency drug with many people making inquiries from major health centres.
Previously, most health centers focused only on encouraging condom use and HIV testing, but have now started encouraging PEP use as part of a holistic HIV prevention strategy.
People are turning to unofficial channels to get PEP especially after working hours because unlike in Shanghai, treatment is not available after hours in other areas of China. Some people are actually sharing the pills with their HIV+ friends while others go for counterfeits.
This affects the efficiency of the drug because the users don’t go through the proper screening to determine whether they are eligible candidates for PEP. It also means that they don’t get to learn the right way to use the drugs.
Discrimination and Stigma Hampering HIV Prevention Efforts
Efforts to intensify HIV prevention methods such as use of PEP and PrEP (HIV prevention drug taken before exposure) is becoming very difficult in China especially among men having sex with men, who are a high risk population.
This is due to discrimination and a general lack of public support. Men in this category receive very little support from health care providers who are supposed to offer help when it comes to educating them on how to use HIV PEP and PrEP.
Restrictive laws have also made it impossible for foreign NGOs interested in educating people about HIV testing, prevention and treatment in China from access funds from organisations abroad.
Without any funds or support from the government it then becomes very difficult for organisations that are willing to take on HIV advocacy in China leaving people at high risk of getting infected with HIV.
HIV PEP and PrEP available at Shim Clinic
HIV prevention medication is readily available at many STD clinics like Shim Clinic as well as a wide variety of STD testing packages. Shim Clinic takes patient care and confidentiality very seriously and will always ensure you get the right advice and care. Do not hesitate to contact us quickly whenever you suspect an infection or need medical advice.
Visit us here: STD Clinic and HIV Test – Shim Clinic
Or contact us: 64467446