Mother-to-child HIV, syphilis decline

Mother-to-child HIV, syphilis decline

Thailand has been given an award by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Switzerland for its success in almost eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.

Dr Sathit Pitutecha, deputy minister of public health, said Thailand declared its success in reducing HIV and syphilis transmission from mothers to babies to the WHO and has been awarded by the Global Validation Advisory Committee in Geneva.

The WHO award follows similar anti-transmission successes declared in 2016 and 2018.

He said Thailand can maintain the HIV infection rate in newborn babies to lower than 2% or less than 50 children per year and save up to 3,500 children from being infected with HIV from their mothers annually, because of the strength of Thailand's public health system.

Department of Health director-general Suwanchai Wattanayingjaroenchai said the mother-to-child HIV and syphilis transmission prevention had been undertaken in mother and child healthcare and universal medical care for all groups of people across the country, including migrants, without discrimination.

Dr Suwanchai said healthcare services to prevent the diseases start with providing advice to pregnant women and their partners, checking for HIV and syphilis infections, prescribing highly active antiretroviral medicine, curing opportunistic infection diseases, and giving replacement milk for infants who must avoid breastfeeding from HIV-positive mothers.

"Thailand is still developing and caring for pregnant women infected with HIV or syphilis, even though we have seen a rise in syphilis infection rates, due to higher syphilis infections among youths," he said.

"We will develop an information database to achieve 2030's goal of decreasing the HIV and syphilis rate to lower than 1,000 cases per year."

According to The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS), as of 2019 the number of HIV-infected people in Thailand was approximately 470,000, of which 3,300 were 14 years old and younger.

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