Thailand officially becomes first Asian country to eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission

  • Thailand is the first Asian nation to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV
  • The WHO says this helps “ensure an AIDS-free generation” in the Southeast Asian nation
  • Aside from Thailand, only three other countries worldwide have achieved this milestone

Thailand officially became the first country in Asia to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of the potentially life-threatening Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which causes the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrom (AIDS).

The World Health Organization (WHO) calls this latest development in the Southeast Asian nation as a “remarkable achievement” that could “ensure an AIDS-free generation” in a country that has a significant number of cases of HIV-AIDS.

“This is a remarkable achievement for a country where thousands of people live with HIV. 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,” WHO Regional Director for Southeast Asia Poonam Khetrapal Singh told CNN.

Experts point out the success of the implementation of routine screening and universal free medication for pregnant women with HIV as one of the reasons for Thailand’s recent achievement.

Since 2001, Thailand became one of the pioneers worldwide in offering free antiretroviral medication to all pregnant women diagnosed with HIV. Through this, the number of mother-to-child transmission dropped from 1,000 cases in 2000 to 85 children infected in 2015.

“Thailand’s progress shows how much can be achieved when science and medicine are underpinned by sustained political commitment,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe told ABC.

So far, only three other countries — Cuba, Belarus, and Armenia — has achieved the distinction of totally eradicating mother-to-child transmission of HIV. However, these countries have significantly lower prevalence of the HIV.
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