Thailand eliminates mother to child HIV and syphilis transmission


The World Health Organization (WHO) has congratulated Thailand as the first Asia-Pacific region country to eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV and syphilis.

Thailand is the first country with a large HIV epidemic to eliminate mother to child transmission of the diseases. In 2014 it was estimated 450,000 people in Thailand live with HIV.

The disease can be passed from mother to child in the womb or in labour, delivery or breastfeeding, and if untreated there is up to a 45 percent change the baby will inherit HIV from its mother.

However if treatment in the form of antiretroviral medicine is given in the crucial stages, the chance is said to be reduced to around 1 percent.

“To ensure children are born healthy is to give them the best possible start in life. It is immensely encouraging to see countries succeed in eliminating mother-to-child transmission of these two infections”, said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, adding “This is a tremendous achievement — a clear signal that the world is on the way to an AIDS-free generation”.

The Thai minister of health was presented with a certificate of validation in a ceremony in New York.

“This is a remarkable achievement for a country where thousands of people live with HIV,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO regional director for Southeast Asia, adding “Thailand’s unwavering commitment to core public health principles has made elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis a reality, a critical step for rolling back the HIV epidemic. Thailand has demonstrated to the world that HIV can be defeated.”