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12 March 2018, 08:00
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Mutated subtype of HIV from the Philippines threatens with a new outbreak of the epidemic

Mutated subtype of HIV from the Philippines threatens with a new outbreak of the epidemic - picture 1

The Philippines is a country in the Asia-Pacific region with the fastest growing HIV epidemic. Over the past decade, its prevalence among Filipinos has increased dramatically, while the level of infection almost all over the world begins to decline. According to the Philippine Department of Health (DOH), the total number of new HIV infections in the Philippines increased by 140% in six years.

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. Those infected by the HIV subtype AE are younger, sicker patients who are more resistant to antiretroviral (ARV) drugs. We are also seeing a faster progression to AIDS under subtype AE, – Dr Edsel Salvana, director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of the Philippines told DW. – The HIV virus has the potential to transform itself into a new and different virus each time it affects a cell. There are nearly 100 different subtypes of HIV, with new subtypes being discovered every day.

Scientists warnt that HIV is not yet defeated and we cannot think of HIV as a single virus but as a collection of viruses that are evolving, with a new mutation that can possibly set off a new epidemic. Science is still struggling with HIV and in this struggle we need to be vigilant.

Author: Lilia Ten