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World AIDS Day Inaugurates <i>Three Ones</i> Plan

AIDS affects at least 40 million people worldwide, and those are just the reported cases. In conjunction with World AIDS Day, the World Bank is launching a new plan to curb the growing AIDS epidemic.

For this year's World AIDS Day, the World Bank is introducing a plan called the "Three Ones." It calls for one national HIV/AIDS authority in each country, one strategic plan, and one monitoring and evaluation system. The idea is that the countries themselves will be responsible for identifying their needs, after which, aid organizations will help them meet those needs in a unified way.

Julien Schweitzer is the Director of Human Development for South Asia at The World Bank.

"There are many players, and that's good news, but it provides a challenge to everybody to work closely together, because we are working often with countries that have very weak or undeveloped institutions, and they can literally collapse under the strain of having to deal with 8 or 10 different donors."

Despite an increase in funding for HIV/AIDS, from $300 million in 1996, to $8 billion in 2005, more people will become infected with HIV, and die from AIDS, in 2005 than in any previous year.

Mr. Schweitzer says there are a few positive signs, “Thank goodness, a few positive signs, there are a few places where the epidemic seems to be getting under control. But, generally, we're not yet winning.”

One of the reasons for the disease's continued growth is the lack of proper education in certain parts of the world.

Dr. Robert Gallo, of the University of Maryland, located outside Washington D.C, was one of a team of scientists who discovered the link between HIV and AIDS.

"It's not just bringing the drugs. We must bring training. We must bring education, we must bring teaching of how to use the drugs properly, to the developing nations."

Mr. Schweitzer says education alone will not stop the spread of AIDS. Countries must abolish the stigma associated with AIDS, and encourage testing.

"I think we have to recognize that stigma is alive and well everywhere.

If people can be tested and they know they're positive, you can do something about it. A lot of the people who are contracting full blown AIDS only discover they have AIDS when they contract the full-blown disease, not when they are -- for the years and years and years -- when they're HIV positive."

The World Bank's plan has been widely endorsed by the AIDS community, but its success is not certain. In 2003, the World Health Organization's "Three by Five" plan set out to provide 3 million people living with HIV/AIDS treatment by the end of 2005. The program fell short of its goals, with the World Health Organziation citing 'bureaucracy, stigma, poor management and inadequate funding' as the causes.