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Insurance to cover AIDS drugs
By Wang Ye (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-07-15 01:34

More than 1 million people in Beijing will have cheaper access to AIDS drugs as of next month.

According to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Labour and Social Security, 12 kinds of AIDS drugs will be incorporated into the list of medicines covered by the medical insurance system in August.

That means workers and retirees covered by the system only need to pay a small amount of money for the medicine while the most costs will be reimbursed by their employers.

By the end of last year, some 1 million workers and retirees at the capital's enterprises, institutions, governmental departments, social groups and some private companies were covered by the medical insurance, reported the Beijing Youth Daily.

Information at the bureau's official website said at the moment in Beijing, around 1,200 hospitals and clinics are designated as establishments that accept patients with medical insurance.

As well, about 3,600 types of drugs are on the list of medicines covered.

Currently, no AIDS drugs are covered by medical insurance services, even though coverage is not classified by diseases and ailments.

In addition, given the steep price of the medicines to treat this deadly disease, many AIDS patients and HIV carriers can hardly afford them.

The new coverage may help AIDS/HIV sufferers better cope with the disease.

However, experts said AIDS patients and HIV carriers may still face challenges when requesting medical insurance assistance from their employers due to the prevalent prejudice towards this infectious disease.

Many in China still regard AIDS as a shameful disease although the country has widely promoted that the disease is not related to morals

In order for employees to have their expenses covered when fighting AIDS/HIV, they have to reveal the fact that they have contracted the virus, something not everyone is happy about.

Hao Jinmin, a clerk at the National Library of China, says he would be hesitant to tell anyone if he was infected.

"If I contracted that disease, I think I would pay all the medical fees on my own as long as I can," said the 24-year-old man, who is covered by the medical insurance system.

"I would not let others, especially my colleagues and employers, know about it since that disease is still unacceptable in people's minds."

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