Bangkok: Thailand has become the first Asian country to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV the World Health Organization said yesterday, a milestone in the fight against the disease.

Describing the elimination as a “remarkable achievement,” the WHO said Thailand was “the first (country) with a large HIV epidemic to ensure an AIDS-free generation.” Belarus and Armenia were also declared free of mother-to-baby HIV transmissions yesterday but both nations have a much lower prevalence of the virus.

WHO said Thailand’s routine screening and universal free medication for pregnant women with HIV was crucial in stopping the virus being passed to new generations. If left untreated, mothers with HIV have a 15-45% chance of transmitting the virus to their children during pregnancy, childbirth or while breastfeeding.