Wealthy Nations Should Increase Global HIV/AIDS Treatment Spending To Reach WHO’s ‘Audacious’ 3 by 5 Goal, Editorial Says
Wealthy nations should increase their funding to reach the "audacious" goals of the World Health Organization's 3 by 5 Initiative -- which aims to treat three million HIV/AIDS patients with antiretroviral drugs by 2005 -- because the "alternative" to fulfilling the organization's "impossible dream" is "death," a Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial says. Although the initiative "seems an impossible goal," WHO's target is "not nearly ambitious enough," as "many more people" are contracting HIV and dying of AIDS-related causes than are receiving treatment, the editorial says. HIV/AIDS will "claim more lives" than antiretrovirals "can save," even if WHO's goal "is somehow rushed to fulfillment" by next year, the Star Tribune says. However, if wealthy nations "pursu[e]" WHO's "fast-track approach" to drug treatment targets, treatment would eventually be able to "overtake death" and curb HIV transmission rates by the end of the decade, the editorial says. While meeting the goals of the 3 by 5 Initiative will "indeed cost more than the United States and other wealthy countries have been willing to invest in fighting AIDS," it would cost less if the Bush administration "dropped its silly insistence that its money can only be used" to purchase FDA-approved drugs instead of less-expensive generic drugs, according to the Star Tribune. Although "reaching WHO's ambitious goal won't be cheap," it is "daft" to "pinc[h] pennies in the AIDS fight," as the "alternative to speedily scaling up the use" of antiretrovirals in the most-affected countries would mean "standing idly by as HIV spread and sickens millions more," the editorial says. Such "pound-foolish parsimony can be withstood no longer," the Star Tribune says, concluding, "All that is necessary is that the vaults be promptly unlocked, and WHO's initiative embraced by all nations" (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 10/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.