DOH denies Philippines has new HIV strain

Mara Cepeda
DOH denies Philippines has new HIV strain
'That is fake news. 'Wag po sana tayo maging simula ng mga ganoong balita kasi 'di naman po ito batay sa ebidensya,' says Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to scientists who warned of a new HIV subtype

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III refuted the report of a group of Filipino scientists that there is a new strain of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the country.

“That is fake news. ‘Wag po sana tayo maging simula ng mga ganoong balita kasi ‘di naman po ito batay sa ebidensya (Don’t be the source of this kind of news because this is not based on evidence),” said Duque in a chance interview in Pasay City on Wednesday, March 21.  

Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology director Dr Edsel Salvana of the University of the Philippines’ National Institutes of Health warned the public last week against the alleged aggressive HIV AE subtype.

Salvana said the new drug-resistant HIV subtype could worsen the epidemic in the country.

Duque, however, said the DOH has not received any information from the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the supposed HIV strain’s presence in the country.

“I’m sure if there was a strain, a new strain, we would’ve been informed by the WHO and other authorities in HIV-AIDS. So wala po kaming gano’ng natatanggap na tamang impormasyon tungkol diyan (So we haven’t received any verified information regarding that),” he said. 

The Philippines has the “fastest growing” HIV epidemic in the Asia Pacific. (READ: On World AIDS Day, Duque urges public to break stigma on HIV)

Duque said the DOH recorded a total of 46,985 HIV positive cases from January 1984 to August 2017. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.