WHO HIV/AIDS Director Apologizes for Missing 3 By 5 Initiative’s End-of-Year GoalWorld Health Organization HIV/AIDS Department Director Jim Yong Kim on Monday apologized for WHO's failure to meet the goal of its 3 by 5 Initiative, which aimed to have three million HIV-positive people in developing countries on antiretroviral drugs by the end of this year, BBC News reports (Morris, BBC News, 11/28). A WHO progress report on the initiative released in June said that about one million HIV-positive people in developing countries are receiving antiretroviral drugs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/23). Although the exact number of people receiving antiretrovirals will be announced early next year, Kim said the 3 by 5 target will not be met. "All we can do is apologize," Kim said, adding, "I have to say that I'm personally extremely disappointed in myself and in my colleagues because we have not moved quickly enough -- we have not saved enough lives" (Reuters, 11/28). However, he said the program -- which was launched in 2003 -- has not completely failed despite missing the target. "Before 3 by 5, there was not an emphasis on saving lives," Kim said adding, "Many leaders in the world were saying we just have to forget about this generation of people who are infected, we're really thinking about the next generation" (BBC News, 11/27). A WHO and UNAIDS report released last week estimates that about 3.1 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses this year, but 250,000 to 300,000 deaths were avoided because more than one million people in middle- and low-income countries are receiving antiretroviral treatment (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/22).
Better Modeling, Planning Needed, Editorial Says
A "more open acknowledgement of past errors" in the modeling for the 3 by 5 target "would give greater confidence that future targets might be hit," an Economist editorial says. According to the editorial, the "feasibility" of reaching the three million target "was based on a set of overoptimistic modeling assumptions about such things as the effectiveness of drug distribution networks and the competence of local health services." However, "the models and the reality on the ground have changed," and even having one million people receiving antiretrovirals in developing countries is "genuinely good news," the editorial says. In order for future targets -- such as a proposal to provide antiretroviral drug access to all who need treatment by 2010 -- to be met, better planning needs to take place, according to the Economist (Economist, 11/24).