China has experienced such a growth rate of HIV in the past several years that one university has taken steps to allow students to test themselves: by placing an HIV testing kit in a vending machine next to regular fare like snacks.
China has seen a 43% year-over-year increase in infection rates, which likely prompted Southwest Petroleum University in Nanchong City in Sichuan Province to install the test kits.
Sichuan Province is one of the top three provinces in China with a disproportionately high rate of HIV/AIDS. Together, with the other two provinces that have high rates of the disease, the three account for over half of the cases of HIV/AIDS in the entire country.
80% of new HIV cases occur due to homosexual activity.
The kits retail for $4.40 and can be taken as a urine test to determine whether or not students need to seek medical attention. Those who purchase the test will collect their urine and send it to a laboratory, and then access the results online. This can all be done completely anonymously.
Similar kits can be purchased online, but they retail for around $45. The cheaper vending machine tests are just as accurate and are partially subsidized by a charity to allow the test to be more accessible.
Reports state that the Chinese have limited sex education and very little is discussed about HIV or AIDS. Many students who suspect they may have the disease do not seek medical help because of its link to homosexuality. Those who do have HIV are often thought to be pariahs by their families and friends because of its connection with same-sex encounters.
The disease is mostly spreading amongst young homosexual men, but as with anywhere else, women who do not use proper protection are also susceptible to becoming infected.
Doctors have stated that most young people who have become infected with HIV/AIDS in China lacked proper education and did not take appropriate precautions for prevention.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) states that there are currently about half a million people in China living with HIV or AIDS, however this figure may be inaccurate due to underreporting.