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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 been done by countries, by UNAIDS, the World Bank, foundations, WHO and many other groups. After twenty years of fighting the epidemic, it is now clear that a comprehensive approach to HIV/AIDS must include prevention, treatment and care.

"The 3 by 5 framework is a plan for action by a broad alliance of nations, institutions, and committed people, including those living with HIV/AIDS,” said Dr. Jack Chow, Assistant Director-General of WHO for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. “We urge all concerned to work to reach the 3 by 5 target as rapidly as possible.”

Evidence and experience shows that rapidly increasing the availability of antiretroviral treatment in line with 3 by 5 targets can lead to more people knowing their HIV status and more openness about AIDS. Individuals on effective treatment are also likely to be less infectious and less able to spread the virus. Good treatment programmes will make more people come forward for testing HIV/AIDS status. Treatment can therefore contribute to the rapid acceleration of prevention.

Building on work done by UNAIDS, developing and donor countries, NGOs and other multilateral agencies, WHO and UNAIDS are taking another big step forward in the global movement to increase access to prevention and treatment services.

"The lack of HIV treatment is without a doubt a global emergency," said Dr Peter Piot, UNAIDS Executive Director. "We firmly believe that we stand no chance of halting this epidemic unless we dramatically scale up access to HIV care. Treatment and prevention are the two pillars of a truly effective comprehensive AIDS strategy."

3 by 5 Strategy To reach the 3 by 5 target, WHO and UNAIDS will focus on five critical areas:

Simplified, standardised tools to deliver antiretroviral therapy A new service to ensure an effective, reliable supply of medicines and diagnostics Rapid identification, dissemination and application of new knowledge and successful strategies Urgent, sustained support for countries Global leadership, strong partnership and advocac

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