Thailand is the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. It is also the first country with a "large HIV epidemic" to eradicate mother-to-child transmission of the diseases.
The disease is passed from mother to child either in the womb or during labour, delivery or breastfeeding, and if untreated, there is a 15-45% chance of the baby inheriting HIV from its mother. If treated, in the form of antiretroviral medicine is given during the crucial stages, that chance is reduced to 1%. The World Health Organization Director-General, Margaret Chan stated that "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 two infections." She added that "this is a tremendous achievement, a clear signal that the world is on the way to an AIDS-free generation." Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO regional director for Southeast Asia said "this is a remarkable achievement for a country where thousands of people live with HIV." She added "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." The drive to eradicate mother-to-child transmission is part of a larger health strategy implemented by the Thai government, which includes universal health care for its citizens. According to the Thai health ministry, the number of women infected with HIV each year decreased from 15 000 to 1 900 from 2000 to 2014. UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe said Thailand had changed the lives of thousands of women and children through turning around the epidemic.