One million people in low and middle-income countries are now receiving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment, according to the latest statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). This represents an increase over the 400,000 on treatment when WHO launched the initiative in 2003 but falls significantly short of the goal to treat 1.6 million people by the end of June 2005.

Although WHO officials suggest that the ultimate target of treating 3 million people by the end of this year will not be met, the program is still seen as a success for expanding treatment in 152 low and middle-income countries. Stephen Lewis, the United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, said the 3 by 5 initiative has "unleashed an irreversible momentum for treatment" and that access to treatment has emphasized the importance of prevention.

The expansion of treatment access in sub-Saharan Africa, where there is also the greatest need, has been the most dramatic. A three-fold increase in the number of people receiving ARVs occurred just in the last year.

Of the 1 million people now on treatment, 350,000 are receiving ARVs funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria or the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Officials at WHO hope the expansion of access to ARVs will help stabilize the pandemic, which caused 3 million deaths last year alone.


New estimates are that US$22 billion in funding for the prevention, treatment, and care of HIV will be necessary by 2008 to reverse the spread of AIDS in developing countries. This money is required to improve the health capacity of developing countries through building infrastructure. These latest figures are from a report issued by the UNAIDS Secretariat that was released to the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board. The report, “Resources needs for an expanded response to AIDS in low and middle income countries”, focuses on the longer-term investments that will be critical to improving the capacity of country’s to handle the AIDS pandemic.

Currently only $8.3 billion is available from all funding sources for treatment and prevention programs. Increasing international resources will help recruit and train community healthcare workers, provide new and renovated health clinics and hospitals, and will help treat 75% of the 6.6 million people worldwide in need of ARVs. A key part of this response also includes providing support for orphans and vulnerable children and more than half the $22 billion would be used to implement and scale-up comprehensive prevention activities. To view this report online go towww.unaids.org.

All articles written by Kristen Jill Kresge