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WHO: Sri Lanka eliminates mother-to-child transmission of HIV, syphilis

WHO: Sri Lanka eliminates mother-to-child transmission of HIV, syphilis

The Island/Asia News Network/PRIYAN DE SILVA

COLOMBO — World Health Organization has certified Sri Lanka as a country that has eliminated transmission of HIV and Syphilis from mother to child, Consultant Venereologist Dr Lilani Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka College of Sexual Health and HIV Medicine has said.

Sri Lanka is the third country in the Asia-Pacific region that was certified to have eliminated the Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT), she said.

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Addressing a media during an awareness walk organized by the Ministry of Health and the National STD / AIDS Control Program jointly, Dr Rajapaksa said that MTCT was the main mode of HIV transmission in children under 15 years old. HIV can be transmitted from a HIV-positive mother to her child during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or breastfeeding. The dual elimination of mother-to-child transmission (EMTCT) of HIV and syphilis has been identified as a global public health priority.

The awareness walk that had been organized to mark the World AIDS Day on Dec 1 commenced from the Campbell Park and reached the Colombo Municipal Council premises. A number of government and non-governmental organizations, including the World Health Organization, the Family Organization Association, participated in the walk. Director General of Health Services Dr. Anil Jasinghe was the chief guest.

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Dr Rajapaksa said: “Sri Lanka’s health services have eliminated the spread of HIV or syphilis from mother to child within the last five years. This year’s Worlds AIDS Day theme is ‘Communities make the difference’. Let’s think of it together – Make a difference – Eliminate AIDS. Our next target is 2020. Our challenge today is to find 90% of HIV positive people in 2020 and treat them. That will help us reach our ultimate goal. That would be eradicating AIDS by 2025.”

National HIV prevalence remains relatively low in Sri Lanka and the country provides free access to HIV treatment for all eligible people.

Other countries which have obtained the certification of the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis status in the region are Thailand, Malaysia, and the Maldives.

Among those present were e Director of the Health Ministry’s, Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Aids Control Unit, Dr Rasanjali Hettiarachchi, Director of Cancer Prevention Project Dr Janaki Vidanapathirana and community health workers.

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