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A Drug-Resistant HIV Subtype Has Been Discovered In PH
The virus is more aggressive and makes HIV progress to AIDS faster
by Khatrina Bonagua | Mar 12, 2018
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Germany-based news outlet Deutsche Welle (DW) has revealed that an HIV subtype is the culprit behind the rapidly increasing infection rates in the Philippines.

In the interview, Director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the National Institutes of Health at the University of the Philippines Dr. Edsel Salvaña explained that this HIV strain called the HIV subtype AE is more (and not entirely) resistant to antiretroviral drugs (medicine for HIV/AIDS treatment), more aggressive, and makes HIV develop to AIDS faster.

However, the HIV subtype AE, as clarified by Dr. Salvaña in a recent Facebook post, is not entirely new as indicated in the interview, but rather is "more common in Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia."

"We have discovered that the explosion of HIV in the Philippines is due to a shift from the Western subtype B to a more aggressive HIV subtype AE," Dr. Salvaña says. "Those infected by the HIV subtype AE are younger, sicker patients who are more resistant to antiretroviral drugs. We are also seeing a faster progression to AIDS under subtype AE."

He adds, "Most HIV infections in the Western world are of subtype B. Most of the research that we have on HIV is also on subtype B, though it accounts for only about 12 percent of all global HIV infections."


Interestingly, recent reports by Department of Health (DOH) and United Nations Agency on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) show that new cases in the country has risen by 140 percent from 2010 to 2016—in a time when there’s a global decline in HIV infection.

“It will be worse. If we are not vigilant, we are going to be caught with our pants down.”

The expert also adds that the HIV subtype AE may cause an epidemic to the country. “The gains that we have made in decreasing HIV infection rates will be short-lived without research and treatment for HIV subtype AE.”

According to Salvaña, “This is urgently needed. Specifically for the Philippines, we need more scientists willing to do research work on HIV. To do this, we need to make access to government research funds more efficient. The current government procurement procedures are tedious and slow, which causes further delay in research.”

Watch his recent TED Talk below to know more about the dangers of the HIV subtype AE:

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