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I am HIV positive and I just got a scholarship for the exchange study to China

Daniel from Toronto

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Daniel from Toronto

Hi, my name is Daniel and I am living in Toronto, Canada.


I have an exchange experience in Beijing for one year. Back then, I was still a Korean citizen and was waiting for the Canadian Citizenship.

I am pretty sure I was HIV negative back then because I did all the physical testing required for the visa in Korea. Considering I had no problems at all during the process, I am pretty sure I was negative.


Last year, I heard about the Canadian-China government Exchange program and applied to it, thinking it would be my "last" opportunity to study in China. I loved the time in Beijing so much so I tried to apply at least.


And the tragic happened. I was diagnosed HIV positive after the same physical examination to apply for the visa. 

The final result for the exchange application was in April and I got no news, so I thought I was not accepted, so I turned down everything and started on the treatment, thanks to the excellent support systems and drug plan in Ontario. 


Currently, I am having a little break after graduation and was planning to start looking for jobs in mid-August. And then, I got an email from the Chinese embassy in Toronto that I have been offered the program. And now I am lost. Whether I can go or not :(


I have made an appointment with one of the consultants in the embassy to talk about the options. (Even though I am still thinking whether this is a right thing to do... What if they just withdraw my offer after knowing my status!?) I heard that China has lifted bans for people living with HIV+ and will be granted visa for study/work purposes. 


Well, I am still kind of lost. Even though I DO get to go to China, where the hell am I going to get the medications from? I heard there was this one American citizen (who's HIV positive) working in Guangzhou that she regularly picks up her medication in Thailand at a lower cost, but I have no idea if i can do that too! How in the world does she do that? o_o


I just wanted to share my story and listen to other people's opinions: whether I should take the chance and go to China or withdraw the offer and stay in Canada.


I just found out that the drug plan in Ontario can provide travel supplies up to 200 days (which is like 6 months), so I need to get at least another 6 months+ worth of medication in other countries.... Are there any experts who is doing the same thing?


P.S. The ARV medication I am on right now is Genvoya. I heard this medication was new, so I am not sure whether this might be available in other countries as well :(



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Sorry I can't help, I wish you the best of luck and hope you can go and enjoy China once again!


1 hour ago, Daniel from Toronto said:

I just found out that the drug plan in Ontario can provide travel supplies up to 200 days (which is like 6 months), so I need to get at least another 6 months+ worth of medication in other countries...

Can't those 200 days get extended if you provide them with your scholarship and visa info?

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Sorry to hear about your HIV status, and at the same time congrats on getting the scholarship, and also thank you for reporting your experience so far here. Others might benefit from knowing that being HIV-positive does no longer bar one from getting a scholarship to China.


As Hoshinoumi says, could the 200 days perhaps be extended? If not, perhaps you could consider flying back for a short visit halfway through your stay and pick up another 200 days' worth of medication?


I know next to nothing about HIV medication, but are the specific meds you use also available in China? Perhaps you can ask the Canadian embassy for help in finding out, or call an international hospital in China? As I recall (but my information might be incorrect or outdated), scholarship students have medical insurance through the school. It might not cover your meds, but it might be worth looking into it in case it does. From what you write (and don't write), I assume you can take the medication without needing to see a doctor regularly?

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Daniel from Toronto


According to the drug plan, the maximum amount of the meds you can get at once is 6 months worth of meds.


The drug benefit gets renewed every year from August. I can only request this once a year so im afraid i cannot have them extended. 


The medication I am on right now might be available in China but it will be very expensive... the amount i cannot even afford. And I am pretty sure the medical insurance provided for foreign students might just cover regular doctor visits and stuff, not antiretroviral drugs for HIV infection. So my only hope is maybe my drugs are available in Thailand.


Consulate General of People's Republic of China in Toronto

I still need to see the doctor to get the prescription. And I heard that the red cross Thailand receives the letters from doctors in other countries so that foreign people can buy medication. They also provide the blood test to check the viral loads and CD4 counts (which you might not know about xD)


Anyway, I am meeting the consultant on monday to see if I can still proceed with the visa. If I can, I will go to see my doctor immediately to find out whether he can help me to find an institution to help me get my medication. The only thing I am concerned with is how to get medication while I am in China.


P.S. I appreciate all of your supports and wishes. And I will also be very appreciated if someone who is an expert at this can help me out :)


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Genvoya is a pill. And as of yet, China is painfully behind on antiretroviral therapy.


Some Chinese people go to Thailand to buy it. I believe it's available in Hong Kong but that prices are extremely high.


*Edit: turns out Stribild is the one that's available in Thailand right now, medicine extremely similar to Genvoya. Genvoya is currently awaiting Thai FDA approval.

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Flying back after 200 days by far the easiest option.


You'll need to check whether bringing that amount of medicine into China is a problem. Also whether you need any periodic testing and possible dose adjustment.


Having lived in China, you must know that everybody knows everything, whether you mention it or not.



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Daniel from Toronto


Genvoya is a one-pill a day regimen and I heard I could get the regular testing done in China.


And the things you mentioned are actually why I am meeting the consultant at the embassy to find out whether they will be obstacles for me to get the residence permit in China. If any one of them seems to be the hindrance, i might just drop the scholarship.

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What's the actual duration? Bear in mind an academic year could allow you to be back in Canada for a few months over the summer, perhaps another month over Spring Festival...

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Daniel from Toronto


if i go, i will be there for a year.

I already know about the vacation in China. (I have already been there in 2014 when I was not HIV positive)


The only problem is that the drug plan only allows the 6-month supply in advance once during the drug plan year (From August to July the following year.)


I just need to find out the way to get the rest of the 6 months or more worth of supply while I am in China. Since I cannot afford to pay for the medication without the drug plan or insurance, I am hoping that maybe I can get them from Thailand. I am going to see my doctor and ask him about this... He might have some strings to pull and help me find the support I can get... hopefully :(

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15 minutes ago, Daniel from Toronto said:

I am going to see my doctor and ask him about this... He might have some strings to pull and help me find the support I can get... hopefully

This is a good idea, your doctor might know what channels are open to you, or what other solutions there might be.

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  • 3 weeks later...

So sorry to hear that. It takes care of the medication question I suppose, but it still sucks. I hope you have other interesting stuff coming up this year instead!

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Hi guys,


@Daniel from Toronto Not really sure on the current legal situation in China but some countries still have laws relating to HIV from the epidemic in the 1980s and have not updated them to reflect the current state of play (i.e. positive people on medication being nominal risk). One of my friends saw Malaysia has a similar policy when applying for a university exchange, so its not isolated to China. I hope one day to live and work in China and have often wondered what would happen if I was to become positive while I was living there, since it could require leaving, even Taiwan have only recently got rid of a deportation law for foreigners. On a happier note the trend is towards updating of laws, it might be a no for this point of your life for this specific trip, but these days people change careers and take career breaks all of the time, in five-ten years you may decide to do the same and the opportunity to do something similar might be available for you.


From other forum posts I understand that X2 visa (under 6 months study) may not require a medical check so it may be possible to go on this visa for short term study, I do not know if they require any self declaration though. Also the university may require a separate medical check if you were required to get medical insurance as part of your program, but if you had medical insurance sorted out back home you might be able to skip this step, I'm not sure. There are of course other places you can consider Singapore/Taiwan etc.


Hope that is of some use.





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