Universities in China are offering students affordable HIV tests for sale in soft drink and snack food vending machines.
Students at five college campuses in Beijing and the Harbin, Guangxi and Heilongjiang provinces can purchase the self-test kits from the same machines selling food and drink.
They pay 30 yuan (just less than $AU6) for the testing kit, which includes a container for a urine sample that can be dropped off anonymously at a receptacle in the same vending machine.
Users can then check their results online using a unique code 10 to 15 days later.
Chinese HIV/AIDS activists say stigma is a major barrier to testing and have applauded the initiative as a positive step towards more people getting tested.
“Helping people to run a test for themselves like a take-home pregnancy test would be very helpful,” Martin Yang, a program manager at the Beijing Gender Health Education Institute, told NPR.
The country’s National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention (NCAIDS) is overseeing the program and subsidising the cost of the tests.
Around 654,000 people in China live with HIV or AIDS – a relatively low percentage of the overall population – but recent figures show the number of university students contracting HIV has risen.
Around 2,320 young people aged between 15 and 24 tested HIV positive in 2016 – four times that of six years ago, China Daily reported.
(Photo via Weibo)