Parent-to-child HIV transmission falls in Thailand

Thailand has earned international praise for its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, while World AIDS Day provided a reminder that the Kingdom has also made important strides in stopping the spread of HIV, especially to newly born children.

The rate of HIV transmission from infected mothers to their children during and after pregnancy has fallen to just 1.3 percent, down from nearly 2 percent five years ago, the Ministry of Public Health announced on World AIDS Day.

The figure is a testament to the Kingdom’s sustained commitment to a comprehensive response to HIV and AIDS. Public health experts have said that maintaining support and funding for HIV response programs has been difficult in some countries, but Thailand’s efforts have been unwavering.

Medical science began developing effective treatments and approaches to stop the transmission from mothers to children nearly two decades ago. However, the challenge has been reaching every pregnant woman with information and health care.

According to the United Nations, Thailand has one of the best public health care systems among developing nations.

Community education and involvement have been crucial in reaching pregnant women, said Dr. Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, Director-General of the Department of Disease Control. He said that 60 percent of all couples in the Kingdom expecting children had received counseling and testing for HIV.

“If pregnant women are found to be HIV-positive, they will be treated with Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) to prevent transmission to the fetus during pregnancy,” Dr. Suwannachai said.

Babies born to HIV-positive mothers will be given antiretroviral drugs for protection and infant milk to avoid breastfeeding. After that, the babies will be regularly monitored and tested to detect if they had contracted the virus.

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