A small diversion from our regularly scheduled programming.
My awesome work insurance covers everything. Well, basically everything. Everything except for STI testing. Today, in the midst of a mild breakdown after excruciating pelvic pain for over 24 hours, 48 now, I was told that I would have to dish out a small fortune to pay for sexual health tests that would have been completely covered by insurance in Bermuda or in Canada. But according to the clinic that I go to, barely any insurance companies in China will cover STI panels.
To be tested for HIV, Herpes I & II, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia and Syphilis I was dishing out over ￥4,000 (~$600),which, if you didn’t know, is my whole month’s salary. Something I don’t have on hand in the middle of the month. I distressingly asked my doctor to take off all the tests except for gonorrhea and chlamydia as they were the only ones I needed for my presumed diagnosis.
This lack of coverage speaks of a wider problem: a lack of a sexual conversation in China. At the clinic, which I was at for six hours today, I was informed that STI tests aren’t covered because they’re not needed and they’re not done regularly. Probably a vicious cycle – if they’re too expensive and not covered by insurance then no one will want to get them and then they will continue to be under-demanded and uncovered by insurance; much dismay as all people should have access to affordable sexual health care, but, of course, that’s not always the case!
If people don’t understand the importance of STI testing, and general sexual health, then China will continue to have one of the highest rates of HIV in the world. Sex just isn’t talked about here. I have Year 13s who are eight months away from their first semesters in university who think that oral contraceptives will kill them and that condoms are useless because they’ll break. I have a Year 12 student where sex is something to be kept quiet and should only be between husband and wife and refuses to have a boyfriend because people would think she is no longer pure.
This system is flawed but not unique. Sexual education should be taught everywhere. People have sex, it’s a fact. Not everybody and no one should be pressured into having sex because “everyone does it”, but sex ed should be taught for when, if, a student decides sex is what they want to do; if they have the knowledge then they will thrive.
End of rant and back to our regular scheduled programming, although I smell an evolution of this blog. But I have a good one for my faceless masses coming up next: The Themes of Tantan.