Mobile HIV testing labs to debut in Beijing

Beijing, March 3 (IANS) Mobile HIV-testing vehicles are set to debut in the Chinese capital Beijing, providing free tests and helping link the needy with follow-up treatment, the media reported on Thursday.

The first five electric minicars with three seats each were launched at an art exhibition held on Tuesday by the UNAIDS China office and the National Centre for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention Centre to mark Global Zero Discrimination Day, which falls on March 1, the China Daily reported.

They will travel to areas frequented by gay men, such as certain bars, bath houses and parks to reach out to the group for intervention and care, according to Xiao Dong, head of the team, which currently has 15 volunteers.

“Some of them speak English, and foreigners are welcome to come for the free tests as well,” he added. No ID is required.

Oral swab kits are used and give results in 15 minutes, he said. Follow-up counselling and referral to treatment and care will be given to those who test positive.

Wu Zunyou, head of the National Centre for AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Disease Control and Prevention, welcomed such a pioneering approach, saying “it would help supplement current testing methods and reach out to the susceptible more actively”.

Currently, China has more than 2,000 government HIV testing and counselling outlets for free tests, but many individuals at risk, particularly gay men, are reluctant to go.

According to Wu, the HIV epidemic has been hitting young gay men hard.

Last year, among the newly detected HIV cases involving male students aged 15 to 24, nearly 81 percent contracted the virus via gay sex.

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