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Chinese mainland free of disease likened to AIDS

By Cai Wenjun (Shanghai Daily)

08:54, September 12, 2012

NO cases of a new AIDS-like disease have been reported on the Chinese mainland, Ministry of Health officials said yesterday.

Late last month, the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that more than 200 people in Thailand and Taiwan had been confirmed with the disease which exhibits symptoms of low immunity similar to HIV/AIDS patients.

Since the patients are all Asian, the disease has been called a "new type of immunodeficiency in Asian adults."

Ministry spokesman Deng Haihua said the health authority was following the development of the disease in neighboring countries and regions and tightening monitoring on the mainland.

"Calling it AIDS-like is actually not very accurate, its proper name is adult-onset immunodeficiency syndrome," Deng said. "There are big differences between AIDS and the new disease. AIDS is caused by the HIV virus and is infectious with clear spreading vehicles, while the mechanism of the new disease hasn't yet been detected but it is not infectious."

The journal report said that while the HIV virus destroys T-cells, key soldiers in the immune system that fight germs, the new disease doesn't affect those cells, but makes substances called autoantibodies that block interferon-gamma, a protein in the body that helps clear infections.

Officials also said the public should differentiate the new disease with so-called "HIV-negative AIDS," which refers to a group of mainland patients who suspected they had symptoms of HIV/AIDS but were found to be HIV-negative in laboratory tests.

"Samples of 50 such people were sent to laboratories in the United States and no infection was found," Deng said. "Epidemiological research in six provinces also ruled out HIV infection."

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