Chinese university offers HIV test kits via vending machine
Tsinghua becomes latest campus to offer the kits as officials seek to curb growth in infection rates
One of China’s leading universities has become the latest to install vending machines offering HIV testing kits amid rising levels of infection among students.
Tsinghua University in Beijing installed the kits earlier this month, Beijing Youth Daily reported on Tuesday.
The vending machines have a return box where students can leave a urine sample for testing.
Students can pay with digital wallets and check the results online using the serial number from the test kit. The whole process is anonymous.
Colleges are selling the kits at a 90 per cent off discount – 30 yuan (US $4.50) on campuses compared with a price of 298 yuan (US $45) in pharmacies.
Campuses in China started providing test kits in 2015, when the National Health and Family Planning Commission urged universities to curb the HIV infection rate among students after it increased by 35 per cent between 2011 and 2015.
By 2015, there were 9,200 students carrying the virus across the country, 1.6 per cent of the total student body, according to the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In the year between 2013 and 2015, in Beijing alone there were more than a hundred new cases among students, according to Southern Metropolis Daily. It also reported that the main cause was same-sex transmission.
Figures from the CDC show that so between the start of the academic year in September and mid-November a total of 37 HIV testing kits had been sold at universities in Beijing.
So far 14 of these have been returned and the results were all negative.
Last year, infection rates among college students declined for the first time since 2008, centre director Jiang Chu was quoted as saying.
He said the drop suggested Aids education and the test kits were proving effective.
“Young people with higher Aids infection rates than other age groups tend to feel helpless and don’t know how to protect themselves,” Jiang said.
The report did not say how many test kits had been provided at Tsinghua, but it said all the kits provided sold out within a day.
One student told the newspaper that he had learned about the availability of the kits from the WeChat account run by Tsinghua’s Red Cross Society.