On Tuesday, Thailand received validation from WHO for having eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis, becoming the first country in Asia and the Pacific region and also the first with a large HIV epidemic to ensure an AIDS-free generation. The Minister of Health of Thailand was presented with the certificate of validation during a ceremony which took place in New York on the eve of the United Nations General-Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending 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,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, said presenting the certificate of validation to Thailand in New York.
“Thailand has turned around its epidemic and transformed the lives of thousands of women and children affected by HIV,” said UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé. “Thailand’s progress shows how much can be achieved when science and medicine are underpinned by sustained political commitment.”
“By investing in strong maternal and child health care and national AIDS prevention measures, Thailand has demonstrated there are ways to protect children from the global AIDS pandemic response,” said Karin Hulshof, Regional Director, UNICEF East Asia-Pacific Region. “Thailand’s achievement inspires its neighbors to greater action. There are still 21,000 infants who are born with HIV each year in the Asia-Pacific region, and more than 200,000 children who are growing up with HIV.”
In addition to Thailand, WHO also recognized Armenia, Belarus, and the Republic of Moldova for the same achievement. “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 2 infections,” said WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. “This is a tremendous achievement – a clear signal that the world is on the way to an AIDS-free generation.”
Eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis is key to the global effort to combat sexually transmitted infections and to end AIDS by the year 2030.
In 2014, WHO and partners developed global criteria to validate the elimination of transmission of both infections through a rigorous review of country progress. Last year, Cuba became the first country to be validated for having successfully eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.