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Editorials and Commentary

Three Million in Thirty-Six Moons

September 19, 2002

"According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 6 million people living with HIV/AIDS need treatment today. Yet, as of July 2002, only 230,000 people in the developing world have had access to antiretroviral therapy (ART). Half of these people live in Brazil. In Africa, there are fewer than 50,000 people estimated to be currently receiving ART. WHO has bravely targeted 50 percent coverage of ART by 2005. That means 3 million people could be on HAART in three years, a more than 10-fold increase in the current figures.

"...I think we have no choice but to answer WHO's call. ...We are facing a logistical problem, albeit a massive one: How do we get the existing drugs to the people who need them? With enough resources and a gigantic mobilization of people and expertise, we can treat 3 million people in three years.

"...We need to get busy. Before the end of the year, there must be a roadmap in hand for getting us to our goal of treating 3 million in three years. This roadmap needs to offer a comprehensive plan for action: from procurement and delivery of drugs and associated products (e.g., diagnostic tests), to technical assistance; from financing options, to education and mobilization efforts for people with HIV/AIDS; from resistance surveillance to recruitment, training and retention of health care workers... the list goes on and on.

"We also desperately need leadership. An effort on the scale of what the WHO is suggesting needs a 'general'.... We should look to individuals with experience in scaling up pubic health programs for other diseases... or even to people who have experience outside of the health field in large-scale mobilizations, yes, including military leaders - real generals.

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"...So far, the Bush administration has done almost nothing towards promoting access to treatment in the developing world. With a new global consensus on treatment, it's time for President Bush to step up and lead. It can be his 'Nixon in China' moment, where the unlikeliest of characters can make history, and in this case save millions of lives.

"...We need to answer WHO's rallying cry and run forward to join this fight."

Back to other CDC news for September 19, 2002

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Gay Men's Health Crisis Treatment Issues
07/08.02; Gregg Gonsalves



  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 

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