Is HIV drugs really free in China?

Yes, antiviral drugs for HIV treatment in China are free of charge.

Previous situation

Before 2002, domestic infected persons had to take antiviral drugs at their own expense or relying on some international cooperation agencies and public welfare organizations. The cost of antiviral treatment per person per year could reach more than 100,000 RMB.

After the localization of antiviral drugs, the treatment cost has dropped to about 3,000 ~ 5,000 yuan per person per year.

In 2002, the Chinese government started the pilot work of free antiviral treatment in some poor areas.

Post-2003 policies

After the SARS epidemic in 2003, the state attached great importance to public health safety. AIDS was incorporated into the national development strategy and promulgated the “Four Exemptions and One Care” policy. After that, free antiviral treatment was gradually promoted throughout the country.

Not only that, infected persons in different regions can also obtain free viral load, CD4 cells (important immune cells destroyed by HIV) tests and other free tests (these tests cost hundreds of thousands at their own expense) a certain number of times a year. Some regions will also issue certain living allowances, and their main executive departments are centers for disease control and prevention at all levels.

Although the national policy says that [patients with financial difficulties are provided with drugs free of charge], in fact, infected persons in the country can be treated free of charge as long as they apply.

Moreover, the treatment standard is also constantly being updated. Previously, only CD4 cells were treated less than 200/cubic millimeter, and then relaxed to 350/cubic millimeter. The National Free AIDS Antiviral Drug Treatment Manual (2012 Edition) > updated only in April 2014 even relaxed the treatment standard to 500/cubic millimeter, basically in line with international standards.

Limitations of Free Treatment

Although the country provides free antiviral treatment, the types of drugs are relatively limited at present, with 7 first-line schemes and 1 second-line scheme. The combined treatment scheme is relatively short of more than 30 drugs in 6 categories and various preparations in developed countries.

The continuous relaxation of treatment standards will definitely lead to the continuous expansion of the treatment population. If the treatment compliance is not good, drug resistance will easily occur. The spread of drug-resistant strains in the population is a very serious problem.

If the patient has serious side effects during taking the medicine, or drug resistance leads to treatment failure, and other free drugs cannot be replaced, it is necessary to change the medicine at his own expense. The cost is quite large, and tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of imported drugs are estimated to be unable to escape every year…

Generally speaking, the country’s investment in HIV treatment is very large. The free antiviral treatment policy has benefited hundreds of thousands of infected people in the country, and the treatment effect is indeed good.

Studies have shown that as long as treatment is adhered to, the life span of infected persons is not much different from that of normal people, and drug resistance will not occur if they take medicine on time and on time every day. That is to say, as long as the body can tolerate a treatment plan, it is not a big problem to eat it for more than ten years or even decades.

Author: Cheyenne