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Drug-resistant HIV on the rise

By Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 31, 2018 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines — Incidence of drug-resistant human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the country is now on the rise, an infectious disease expert reported yesterday.

Edsel Salvana, director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of the Philippines-Manila’s National Institute of Health (NIH), said they observed a surge in cases of drug-resistant HIV cases among those who tested positive for the infection.

“From zero, we now see six percent of drug-resistant HIV at baseline,” Salvana said, noting that the percentage increase is considered alarming.

Salvana explained that baseline means the patient was detected positive for drug-resistant HIV upon initial test.

He added that baseline drug-resistant HIV test is not routine because it is costly and thus is only done to HIV positive individuals who do not respond to standard treatment.

Each test for drug-resistant HIV costs P5,000, Salvana said.

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Under World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, Salvana said, routine drug-resistant HIV baseline test must be undertaken when incidence reaches five percent. 

According to Salvana, they have asked the Department of Health (DOH) to provide free drug-resistant HIV tests so that those diagnosed with the infection can be provided with the right treatment.

“Given the wrong treatment the infection can become drug resistant, which is a bigger burden because the patient has to take six pills a day compared to one pill of standard treatment,” Salvana pointed out. 



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