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WHO and UNAIDS unveil plan to get 3 million AIDS patients on treatment by 2005

1 December 2003 | GENEVA -- The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNAIDS today release // detailed and concrete release the plan to reach the 3 by 5 target of providing antiretroviral treatment to three million people living with AIDS in developing countries and those in transition by the end of 2005. This is a vital step towards the ultimate goal of providing universal access to AIDS treatment to all those who need it.

The 3 by 5 initiative complements the groundbreaking commitments made by the United States under President Bush's HIV/AIDS Initiatives ($15 billion dollars for an enhanced AIDS response), the pathfinding work of NGOs (like MSF) and faith-based groups, the efforts of pharmaceutical companies to reduce the prices of AIDS treatment, the contribution of international foundations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the initiative and hard work of many national and international agencies, and, critically, the courageous contributions of nations increasing their people’s access to AIDS treatment.

"Preventing and treating AIDS may be the toughest health assignment the world has ever faced, but it is also the most urgent," said Dr LEE Jong-wook, Director-General of the World Health Organization. "The lives of millions of people are at stake. This strategy demands massive and unconventional efforts to make sure they stay alive."

UNAIDS announced last week that 40 million people around the world are infected with HIV, and that the global AIDS epidemic shows no signs of abating. Five million people became infected with HIV worldwide and 3 million died this year alone - that's 8,000 people every day. WHO estimates that six million people worldwide are in immediate need of AIDS treatment. This strategy outlines the steps needed to deliver treatment to half of them within two years.

The strategy is a key element in a combined programme of accelerating HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. Much has already
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