Associated Press (10.21.03) - Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Today in Thailand, 12 children born with HIV performed for
first lady Laura Bush when she visited the Queen Sirikit
National Institute of Child Health in Bangkok. She was there
to see how the hospital is working to prevent mother-to-child
transmission of the disease.
The hospital has received funds as part of a collaboration
between CDC, the Thai government and the Thai Ministry of
Health. The normal rate of mother-to-child transmission is 33
percent, according to Wallop Thaineua, permanent secretary of
the Public Health Ministry. The project has found it can
reduce the transmission rate to 9.4 percent using an AZT
cocktail treatment and feeding newborns formula instead of
The aunt of one of the infected children said her five-year-
old nephew was not on HIV medication but was taking medicines
to fight colds and coughs. Asked to give a message to the
American visitor, the aunt said, "I want to thank her for
coming to visit the children, but I would ask them to reduce
the price of the [American-made] medication because Thai
people don't have that much money. I feel sorry for the
children, and this is how I want them to help."
According to a US official, the program has received an
estimated $1 million to $2 million over the past ten years. An
estimated 1 million Thais have been infected with HIV since
the nation's first case was detected in 1984. Some 400,002
Thais have died of AIDS.
Mrs. Bush accompanied President George W. Bush to Thailand,
where he attended a conference of Asian-Pacific leaders. Later
Tuesday, the couple flew on to Singapore.