Sri Lanka is among the front line countries that had effectively controlled the spread of HIV/ AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases like Syphilis and Gonorrhea, said in a seminar yesterday.
Dr. Lilani Rajapaksa, National Coordinator, of the ‘Project to Prevent Transmission of HIV and Syphilis from Mother to Child’ told the seminar conducted at the Health Promotion Bureau yesterday that the number of HIV/AIDS infected persons stood at 3,195 at the end of 2018 and Syphilis and Gonorrhea patients countrywide stood at 100.
“The spread of the three diseases in Sri Lanka is about .02% a year and this is one of the lowest in the region,” Dr. Rajapaksa said. "Our ambition is to make the future generation free of HIV and syphilis infections. Sri Lanka is planning to obtain validation certificate by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a country which has "eliminated mother to child transmission of HIV and syphilis."
Dr. P. Weerasinghe, who is a specialist in sexually transmitted diseases said the Health Ministry required the support of all healthcare personnel and the community and the media to meet the goal of creating a sexual-disease-free Sri Lanka.
“Sri Lanka has a well established Maternal and child health services which are extended to grass root lever. Every pregnant woman can access the services provided by Medical Officer of Health clinics,” Dr. Weerasinghe said.
In these clinics, screening tests for HIV and syphilis infections are offered to all pregnant mothers, after explaining all the facts related to diseases. All the above services and investigations are done free of charge, assuring mothers privacy and confidentiality, he said.
Since 2011, all the HIV positive pregnant women who received services from sexually transmitted disease clinics (STD Clinics) had delivered HIV uninfected babies, Dr. Weerasinghe noted.
Senior Microbiologist Dr. J. Alwitigala said testing and care services for syphilis has been initiated since 1952, at present, the babies born with syphilis infection has reduced significantly.
“Mothers who are infected with either with HIV or syphilis infection are provided with treatment and other necessary services during pregnancy, delivery and even after delivery by the government, assuring privacy and confidentiality,” she said.
Dr. Alwitigala said the seminar hoped to increase media awareness regarding the success of the national programme of elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV and syphilis, thereby to obtain a wide media coverage to improve community awareness and to get all pregnant women for services without hesitance. (Sandun A Jayasekera)