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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
Thai HIV Victims Meet US First Lady, Say US Needs to Do More
Alisa Tang
October 21, 2003
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 breast milk.

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.