BioScience Trends. 2014;8(3):189-191. (DOI: 10.5582/ bst.2014.01015)

Why are some HIV/AIDS patients reluctant to receive antiviral therapy as soon as possible in China?

Sun Y, Lu HZ


In more than 20 years of medical practice, a surprising phenomenon has often occurred: some patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) decide not to go to the hospital and they do not let others know that they are suffering from the disease unless they believe that they are dieing. Zhang Shan (a pseudonym) is one such patient with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/AIDS who was reluctant to receive antiviral therapy as soon as possible, and this paper shares Zhang's story as he related it. Clearly, there are numerous views as to why patients in China behave as Zhang did. Presented here are several reasons, including society, history, morality and ideology, family, and education. Although all of these reasons do play a role, the patient’s mindset and behavior is the most significant reason for a patient’s reluctance to seek treatment or disclose his/her status. If the individual patient’s mindset and behavior are not dealt with effectively, then HIV/AIDS can continue to spread and threaten additional lives and even the fabric of society. This paper analyzes the reasons why patients are hesitant to receive antiviral therapy, but this paper also suggests steps healthcare personnel can take to encourage patients to seek treatment. Such steps can save the lives of current patients with HIV/AIDS. In addition, sound public health measures and a rational approach to treatment are important to helping potential patients with HIV/AIDS.

KEYWORDS: HIV/AIDS, antiviral therapy, China

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