PRESS RELEASE: Asia-Pacific countries pledge to accelerate progress to eliminate parent to child transmission of HIV and syphilis

BEIJING, 21 September 2015 – Government representatives from 19 countries in the Asia-Pacific region have agreed to accelerate efforts to eliminate the parent-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.

With the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), countries agreed on criteria to receive official validation when they eliminate the diseases, as well as agreeing to ramp up efforts to eliminate HIV and syphilis and strong pledges to improve mother and child health care.

“Great progress has been made in Asia and the Pacific to prevent parent to child transmission of HIV and syphilis, said Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific.  “And while some countries in the region have progressed to eliminate these infections and are almost ready for validation, others are committed to do so. WHO has established global criteria and a formal process for the validation of elimination of parent-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis and is ready to help countries meet the criteria,” he said.

Asia-Pacific countries agreed to accelerate the delivery of high impact HIV and syphilis prevention and treatment services to parents and children. Almost two-thirds of the countries committed to reaching the elimination of parent-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis by 2020.

“Asia and the Pacific is one of the world’s most dynamic regions, often setting the pace for development,” said Steve Kraus, Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific.  “Many countries have accomplished feats that seemed impossible, so with the political resolve of leaders, the commitment of communities, an AIDS-free generation in the region is a reality within the next five years.”

Improving health care for mother and child

 With 21 000 new HIV infections among children in the region in 2014 alone, Governments agreed on a series of measures to prevent new infections among children and to improve health of mothers and children.

Diagnosing infants earlier is critical if HIV and syphilis infections are to be reduced, say UN agencies.  Currently only a third of infants living with HIV are diagnosed early enough.

“Governments have shown great commitment towards eliminating HIV and syphilis and UNICEF will work with them to ensure this translates into live saving interventions throughout Asia-Pacific,” said Daniel Toole, Regional Director at UNICEF East Asia Pacific.

While antenatal care coverage is generally good, the UN says there should be increased focused on improving the quality of antenatal care, increasing the number of antenatal visits, ensuring women give birth safely in health facilities. In addition, HIV services must be more closely linked to maternal services.

Validation of elimination

 In order to gain official validation from WHO, countries must appoint a validation team with experts to gather all the relevant information to apply for validation from WHO. At the end of the process, WHO can officially certify validation if the country meets all the relevant criteria.

Cuba became the first country to be officially validated for elimination of HIV and syphilis in June this year.

Thailand is close to being validated for the elimination of HIV while Sri Lanka is close to eliminating syphilis. Many countries, say the UN, have shown strong commitment towards eliminating HIV and syphilis.


Additional materials

High resolution photos of mothers and children receiving HIV testing and treatment can be download here:

To find out more about the Asia-Pacific ePTCT task force and meeting, please visit:

For more information, please contact:

  • Simon Nazer, Communication Section, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific, Tel: +66 (0) 2-356-9513, Mob: +66 (0) 61-88-33-557, E-mail:
  • Saya Oka, Communications Advisor, UNAIDS Asia and the Pacific, Tel: +66 (0) 2-680-4128, Mob: +66 (0) 81-835-3476, E-mail: ,
  • Ruel Serrano, Public Information Office, WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific, Tel: +632 528 9993, Mob +63 908 891 4532:, E-mail:


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF in East Asia and the Pacific, visit:


The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners to maximize results for the AIDS response. Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

About WHO

WHO is the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations’ system. We do this by providing leadership on matters critical to health and engaging in partnerships where joint action is needed; shaping the research agenda and stimulating the generation, translation and dissemination of valuable knowledge; setting norms and standards and promoting and monitoring their implementation; articulating ethical and evidence-based policy options; providing technical support, catalysing change, and building sustainable institutional capacity; and monitoring the health situation and assessing health trends. For more information about WHO in the Western Pacific Region, visit:

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