Bangkok Post

Ministry to probe woman’s HIV misdiagnos­is

Suthida looks to govt for compensati­on

- POST REPORTERS

The Public Health Ministry will set up a committee to look into the HIV/Aids misdiagnos­is of a 23-year-old woman from Roi Et who tested positive when she was eight years old, but for whom recent repeat tests have confirmed she does not have the virus.

Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatay­adorn was speaking after meeting Suthida Saengsumat to discuss remedial measures to help her.

Dr Piyasakol said the panel will find out how Ms Suthida Saengsumat, the mother of two young children, was wrongly diagnosed with HIV.

The panel will be led by Dr Prapan Panuphak, director of the Aids Research Centre, with deputy permanent secretary for public health Suwanchai Watthanayi­ngcharoen-chai among panel members.

The panel will have 30 days to complete the probe, Dr Piyasakol said, adding the ministry’s Centre for Peace in Health Care will be responsibl­e for considerin­g remedial measures to help the woman.

Dr Piyasakol also said the ministry may invite Ms Suthida to act as a presenter for its publicity campaigns to help HIV patients.

Ms Suthida, holding her two-year-old daughter, told a press conference yesterday that she felt immensely relieved after finding out she is not infected with HIV, following years of enduring tremendous suffering.

Growing up, she said everybody, including neighbours and schoolmate­s, distanced themselves from her. Consequent­ly she did not want to go to school.

“Finally I dropped out and grew up an uneducated person, although I dreamed of becoming a doctor,” Ms Suthida said.

She said it is up to the ministry to consider compensati­on for her, and added she was willing to act on behalf of the ministry if she was asked to do so.

Activist lawyer Songkan Atchariyas­ap yesterday called on the Public Health Ministry to launch a probe into the misdiagnos­is and consider appropriat­e compensati­on for Ms Suthida as it sees fit.

He added the hospital in Roi Et where the woman originally tested for HIV when she was a girl should come out and provide an explanatio­n for the mistake as it was a matter of public interest.

Repeat HIV tests were conducted on June 1 by the Thai Red Cross Aids Research Centre on Ms Suthida.

Since being told by Roi Et hospital that she had HIV, she has been taking antiretrov­iral drugs for many years.

Ms Suthida earlier said she was worried she might pass the virus onto her children if she fell pregnant.

However, doctors assured her the children would not get the virus if she had taken the antiretrov­iral drugs regularly.

The worry that she would pass on the virus surfaced again when she did fall pregnant with her first child five years ago so she returned to the health system to find out more. A subsequent blood test showed she was negative for HIV/Aids.

She took the repeat tests and the results confirmed she was virus-free.

Ms Suthida said she decided to stop taking the antiretrov­iral drugs five years ago after learning from doctors that her first child did not have HIV.

She moved to live in Samut Prakan before she had her first child.

With Mr Songkan, Ms Suthida submitted a petition to the Public Health Ministry and the ministry arranged a new blood test at the Thai Red Cross for final confirmati­on.

Dr Prapan Panuphak announced that effective HIV-testing methods showed Ms Suthida was HIV-negative.

 ??  ?? Suthida: Ready to help ministry
Suthida: Ready to help ministry

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