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Updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed, Aug 18, 2021

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WHO Certifies Thailand for Eliminating Mother-Child HIV Transmission

Thailand has the most efficient and praised HIV prevention system in the modern world.

(Photo : Reuters) Thailand has the most efficient and praised HIV prevention system in the modern world.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced Thailand as the first country in Asia to eliminate HIV transmission from a pregnant woman to her child.

The milestone is another step in Thailand's aggressive campaign to reduce new cases of the AIDS virus, but experts warn many other problems still exist, including a rising rate of new HIV infections among gay men and transgender people.

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In the 1980s and 1990s, Thailand struggled with a huge HIV epidemic with an estimated 143,000 new infections in 1991. Over the decades, it has conducted awareness and condom use campaigns, and provided free antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for all Thais, cutting the estimated number of new infections to 8,100 in 2013.

Thailand's decision to provide all pregnant women – including undocumented migrant workers – free antenatal care, delivery and services for HIV and syphilis, pushed treatment coverage rates up, culminating in the validation of elimination of mother-to-child transmission, WHO said.

Mother-to-child transmission has decreased to 85 children infected with HIV in 2015; from about 1,000 children infected in 2000, it said. Thai health authorities said that the number of women newly infected with HIV fell to 1,900 in 2014, from 15,000 in 2000.

Thai Ministry of Public Health, 98 percent of all pregnant women living with HIV have access to ARVs, and the rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV has been reduced to less than two percent.

“I do think that once Thailand has been able to do it, it's a motivation for other countries around the world and also for the public health community because one does see now that, yes, the world can be free of HIV,” Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO's Southeast Asia director, said by phone, noting Thailand's HIV rate was once among the region's highest.

Thailand’s first response to the first cases of AIDs is to spread awareness. The health system changed in order to not only educate, but to provide people living with AIDS with the necessary retroviral. A lot of activities to educate the population have helped to reduce the social stigma an infected individual can face every day. In fact, the country has the most efficient and praised HIV prevention system in the modern world. The government has been using both the social and the scientific approach to control the situation.

In 2015, Cuba became the first country to receive the validation. Along with Thailand, Armenia has also eliminated HIV transmission from mother to child, and the Republic of Moldova eliminated syphilis transmission from mother to child.

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