Home Institution

University of Washington

Publication Date

Fall 2015

Program Name

China: Language, Cultures, and Ethnic Minorities


In a country which provides free medicine and care for patients living with HIV/AIDS, China has not included a crucial piece of the problem in its health care scheme. In Yunnan Province alone, 77.7 % of intravenous drug users are co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C. While these patients can obtain treatment for HIV with ease, they cannot do so to treat their hepatitis C infection, a viral disease that leads to liver failure. Recent trends indicate that more co-infected patients are dying of HCV rather than HIV due to treatment inaccessibility. This study investigates theseverity of HCV in China, the barriers to obtaining treatment, and what alternatives exist for patients infected by HCV. Over the course of one month, formal interviews were conducted with 18 intravenous drug users, two medical doctors specializing in infectious disease, and one Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor. The answers were analyzed to compare the experience of patients to the experiences of doctors and how this correlated with the shortfalls in HCV treatment distribution.

There are four findings which point to the underlying causes. First, there is a gap between what medical doctors assume to what patients experience. While doctors claimed that HCV treatment is highly successful, not a single IDU who was interviewed had successfully completed the regimen. Second, finances and stigma serve as the largest barriers to obtaining treatment. Third, in order to cope with these barriers, patients find emotional reprieve in community support and treatment alternatives in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Fourth, the solution requires changes from both the Chinese health care system and foreign pharmaceutical companies. The goal of this research is to raise awareness about the gaps in knowledge and efforts surrounding hepatitis C to create a sense of urgency to fill them. This study will assist nongovernmental organizations and public health entities in understanding the problem of HCV in China so that they can implement improved and sustainable solutions.


Medicine and Health Sciences | Public Health | Public Health Education and Promotion


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