About 1.3M People in Developing Countries Receiving Antiretrovirals at End of 2005, WHO 3 by 5 Initiative Progress Report Says
The World Health Organization's 3 by 5 Initiative -- which aimed to have three million HIV-positive people in developing countries on antiretroviral drugs by the end of 2005 -- provided 1.3 million people in developing countries with access to the drugs, according to a WHO report released on Tuesday, the AP/Washington Post reports. The number of HIV-positive people in developing countries receiving antiretrovirals at the end of 2005 was more than three times greater than the number receiving treatment in 2003, Kevin De Cock, director of WHO's HIV/AIDS Department, said. He also said the agency believes between 250,000 and 350,000 deaths were prevented by 3 by 5 in 2005 (Higgins, AP/Washington Post, 3/27). According to the report, 660,000 children under age 15 in developing countries in 2005 needed immediate antiretroviral treatment, but only about 17% had access to such treatment, Reuters reports. The report notes that from 2003 to 2005, the cost of first-line antiretroviral treatment declined by between 37% and 53%, depending on the drug regimen. Global HIV/AIDS-related funding increased from $4.7 billion in 2003 to $8.3 billion in 2005, with much of the aid coming from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the World Bank, according to the report. Although the initiative's "overall progress was less ambitious" than the agency initially targeted, access to treatment has improved since the program was launched in December 2003, Reuters reports. The report cites ineffectual collaboration between WHO and aid providers, a lack of sufficient resources and supplies of drugs and inadequate health systems as reasons for missing the target (MacInnis, Reuters, 3/27). Paul Zeitz, executive director of the advocacy group Global AIDS Alliance, said, "This report shows that setting an ambitious goal can catalyze bold action," adding, "The impressive expansion of treatment sites, even in very poor countries like Malawi, shows that significant progress is possible, even in difficult settings" (AP/Washington Post, 3/27).
Finance ministers from the Group of Eight industrialized nations in June 2005 agreed to increase efforts to provide universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment by 2010, as well as to encourage research into vaccines for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/7/05). According to the report, agencies and providers can reach the target but a substantial increase in funds will be required. UNAIDS reported an $18 billion gap between available and needed resources in the 2005-2007 period. The agency said that by 2008, at least $22 billion would be required to fund HIV prevention, treatment and care programs annually.
Pregnant Women and Vertical HIV Transmission
The report says that fewer than 10% of HIV-positive women in developing countries received antiretroviral treatment during pregnancy and childbirth between 2003 and 2005. Nearly 2,000 HIV-positive infants are born every day because their HIV-positive mothers do not have access to treatment to prevent transmission, according to WHO. "Each year, over 570,000 children under the age of 15 die of AIDS[-related causes], most having acquired HIV from their mothers," the report says (Reuters, 3/27).