New hiv testing project targets groups most at risk

Updated: 2016-04-21 08:06

By Shan Juan(China Daily)

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Innovative approach

Wu Zunyou, director of the National Center for AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Disease Control and Prevention, echoed Shang's message: "Innovation and reform are needed to allow the current AIDS-control strategies to better reach gay men in particular for more-effective intervention."

New hiv testing project targets groups most at risk

He said gay men have long been a major target group of AIDS intervention efforts, but the epidemic has still grown quickly within the gay community.

"It's not simply down to a lack for knowledge," he added. "I used to talk with a (gay) doctor who knows all about the epidemic and the risks, but still couldn't resist having sex without a condom frequently."

Zhao, a gay man in Beijing, said the heart often overrules the head. "It's hard to always stick to protected sex - when the two of you are in the mood, you forget everything else," he said.

Because he was aware of the risks, the 35-year-old business manager at an insurance company, has had an HIV test every three months since he was 27. In January, the results came back positive.

"The day of doom finally arrived and I started antiretroviral treatment immediately," he said.

He takes three different medications every night at 11 pm, but has never revealed his HIV status to sexual partners. Gay hookup apps and websites mean casual sex is widely available, and one-night stands are even more accessible.

"It's just so easy with so many possibilities," he said.

Wu Zunyou said it's hard to change long-term behavior, even if one is fully aware of the risks. "This aspect of the 'human condition' should be introduced into intervention work targeting gay men as well."

Shang Hong, of the HIV lab, urged the mobile apps and online platforms used by gay men to provide more education to enable better-targeted intervention,

Zhao said the message must be reiterated regularly.

"At the moment, a lot of the information related to HIV is only released in the period around World AIDS Day, which falls on Dec 1 every year. For the rest of the year, I have no reliable sources of information about the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. I don't know if the information available online is accurate and reliable," he said.

He warned that a lack of education can be fatal: "I have seen many young gay men die from serious complications because of late detection and treatment."