The United Nations is unveiling its new strategy to deliver anti-AIDS therapy to three million people worldwide by 2005. The "Three-by-Five" Initiative - as it is called - marks a dramatic intensification of the world's efforts to fight AIDS.
Worldwide, only seven percent of the nearly six million people needing AIDS treatment can get it, according to Peter Piot, head of the joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS. "That's really not acceptable and we have no chance of halting this epidemic if we're not going to make sure that everybody who needs it has access to treatment," he says.
UNAIDS and the World Health Organization released their strategy for increasing the number of people receiving treatment to three million by the end of 2005. Under the Three-by-Five plan, the World Health Organization will provide simple, standardized procedures that will make it easier to get more people tested and treated.
The organization will advise and provide technical help to countries on setting goals, finding money, hiring and training local workers and improving facilities. The plan sets up a new office to act as an international information clearinghouse on drug prices and sources and on legal issues. It will help control costs by establishing global and regional networks of buyers.
Doctor Richard Feachem heads the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. He says the U.N. plan fills what has been a big gap in treatment efforts. "We must rapidly accelerate effective treatment of HIV positive people all over the world," he says. "The Three-by-Five campaign is the kick-start [initial impulse] to that effort, it is the engine that will drive us forward and expand access to treatment very rapidly."
The WHO plan is expected to cost $5.5 billion through 2005.