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Vending Machines Dispense HIV Testing Kits At A Chinese University As Virus Becomes Widespread Among Youth

In China, the number of young Chinese people infected with human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, continues to swell. In an attempt to bring awareness into the fold, a Chinese university in a high-risk area has started setting up vending machines that spew out HIV testing kits.

The kits cost less than $5 and are sold alongside snacks and beverages inside vending machines at the Southwest Petroleum University in China's Sichuan Province.

The province has been found (PDF) to have a high prevalence of HIV, among the top three provinces in China to account for the country's 501,000 cases of HIV and AIDS by the end of 2014, according to the report.

The kits take the urine samples of the testees, to be sent back to a lab. The process is thoroughly anonymous, and the test results can be delivered online for immediacy and accessibility.

The inexpensive testing kits offer a low-cost solution for those who want to make sure that they're not infected with the virus. Other testing kits hover around $45, and can be purchased online at Chinese ecommerce site Taobao. The cost of the testing kits was subsidized with the help of a charity, according to Huaxi Daily, a Chinese newspaper.

China's HIV and AIDS infection rate among young people are growing at an alarming pace. In just four years starting 2011, the infection rose to 35 percent in the 15 to 24 age group. About 1.6 percent of Chinese HIV and AIDS cases were accounted for by students by the time 2015 closed.

The Sichuan Province university marks the first time that inexpensive and self-administered HIV testing kits are offered to university students. By the end of 2016, the test run will halt, according to Shen Jie, China Association of AIDS Prevention and Control's deputy president.

HIV is a virus transmitted via bodily fluids such as blood and semen, and can worsen into AIDS, or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, a crucial weakening of the body's immune system that renders it unable to fight off viruses. China's growing rate of HIV/AIDS cases seems to be rooted in lack of sufficient sex education in the curriculum, most experts infer.

In China, numbers of both male heterosexual and homosexual transmissions show a consistent uptick. The percentage of of sexually transmitted cases rose from 33.1 percent in 2006 to 92.2 percent eight years later in 2014. The male homosexual transmission rate, in the same period, rose from 2.5 percent to 25.8 percent.

HIV remains progressively a growing concern, since medical research still hasn't gotten to the point where it could be remedied entirely. However, inroads do continue to occur, as with the recent feat by Emory Researchers who were able to achieve sustained HIV remission in testing rhesus macaque monkeys.

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