WHO European Region Reaffirms Commitment to 3 By 5 Initiative
The World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe on Wednesday at the conclusion of the regional committee's three-day meeting reaffirmed its commitment to provide treatment for 100,000 HIV-positive people in Europe by 2005 through the organization's 3 by 5 Initiative, according to a WHO Regional Office for Europe release (WHO Regional Office for Europe release, 9/9). The initiative aims to treat three million HIV-positive people with antiretroviral drugs by 2005 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/2). "All patients have to be treated, especially in the poorest Eastern European countries, where less than 2% of AIDS sufferers have access to antiretroviral treatment compared to 90% in Western Europe," Marc Danzon, WHO regional director for Europe, said, Agence France-Presse/Yahoo! News reports. Danzon, who was re-elected to a second term Tuesday, said he fears a "real explosion of AIDS in Eastern Europe," where the need for treatment is expected to rise by more than 500% by 2010. In June, WHO estimated that 291,000 of 475,000 HIV-positive Europeans who need highly active antiretroviral therapy were being treated, most of them in Western Europe (Agence France-Presse/Yahoo! News, 9/8). "I am sure that, just like us in WHO, our member states are doing and will do their utmost to help take up this challenge and achieve the goal of the European component of the 3 by 5 program," Danzon said (WHO Regional Office for Europe release, 9/9).
During Tuesday's meeting, WHO Director General Jong-Wook Lee also emphasized the importance of coordination of resources among E.U. member states. "Europe has the fastest-growing HIV/AIDS epidemic in the world, and WHO warmly welcomes member states' commitment to correcting this in the shortest possible time," Lee said, adding, "Enormous logistic and technical difficulties remain, but there are signs that they are yielding to the persistent efforts of our many partners working toward the 3 by 5 target within countries and internationally." In Europe, 30 countries have universal access to antiretroviral therapy, 18 countries have resources for integrated HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment and 22 countries have "partial or almost nonexistent" access to treatment and prevention, according to the release (WHO Regional Office for Europe release, 9/9). At the end of 2003, there were 1.94 million HIV-positive people in Europe, a 25% increase from December 2001, according to UNAIDS and WHO, Agence France-Presse/Yahoo! News reports (Agence France-Presse/Yahoo! News, 9/8).