New AIDS-like disease yet to hit Vietnam, doctors say

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Ho Chi Minh City health officials have denied a media report that people in the city have been infected with a new disease that US scientists say is similar to AIDS.

The denial was made after the US-based New England Journal of Medicine on August 23 ran a study by the US National Institute of Health that said at least 200 Asian people were infected with the mysterious new disease, some of whom had died. A local media report said the disease had appeared in Vietnam with several cases recorded at HCMC hospitals.

Descriptions said the new disease causes AIDS-like symptoms but has nothing to do with the HIV virus.

However, Dr. Nguyen Hoai Nam from the city  Department of Health, said no such infections have been reported at HCMC hospitals, news website VnExpress has reported.

A respresentative from the Ministry of Health said the condition is new and the ministry has yet to record such a case.

Dr. Nguyen Van Vinh Chau, director of the HCMC Hospital for Tropical Diseases, said the basic difference between the new disease and AIDS is that latter is caused by HIV but the new one by some autoantibodies that attack the producers' immune system.

He said the new disease has so far been reported in Thailand, Taiwan and several Asian nationals in the US, most at their 50s, and thus the condition has been called adult-onset immunodeficiency syndrome.

Scientists have ruled out microorganisms as the cause as there's no signs of infection through physical contact.

All the patients were found to lead normal lives and thus genetic factors combined with environmental factors are currently the prime suspects, Chau said.

He said the hospital will continue checking patients so that no possible cases of the new disease are missed.

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