Caring approach gives patients new lease of life
Updated: 2012-04-27 08:11
By Shan Juan in Wuhan, Hubei (China Daily)
AIDS sufferers get medication tailored to their needs, reports Shan Juan in Wuhan, Hubei province.
'Please take your drugs on time. You have to be responsible for your own health. Always remember to use a condom, which will also protect you from other infections. You can live as long as healthy people if you follow the treatment correctly."
Every day, Doctor Zhao Min, who heads the Wuhan AIDS Care Center at the local dermatology and venereology institute, repeats this message time and again, when receiving patients, mostly gay men.
"Good AIDS treatment consists of 70 percent care and 30 percent drugs," said Zhao, who has been treating sexually transmitted diseases for more than 15 years.
Along with three colleagues, two nurses and one volunteer from a local anti-AIDS community-based organization, Zhao is currently treating 65 patients who have full-blown AIDS. In June, the center began to provide part-paid antiretroviral therapy (ART) for patients under a pilot project aimed at further optimizing the drug regimen and improving the delivery of services.
Under the project, each patient pays 200 yuan ($32) per month as a service fee and in return receives a treatment package tailored to their individual needs. The package includes an improved drug regimen, two viral load tests per year, which measure the severity of the infection and four CD4 tests a year (CD4 are white blood cells that help the body fight infection).
It also includes medical referral services if required, prevention and treatment of opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis, oversight of drug resistance and psychological counseling, according to Zhang Xin, a volunteer from the local organization.
"It's voluntary and they can quit anytime. The fee helps to maintain the operation of the platform," said Thomas Cai, director of an NGO called AIDS Care China, who devised the Wuhan model that pioneers treatment that's partly paid for by the patients.