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Monday, December 01, 2003

World AIDS Day: "3 x 5" campaign launched
Today is World AIDS Day and to mark this occasion the UN's World Health Organization, UNAIDS and the Global Fund to fight Aids ,TB + Malaria have joined forces to unveil an action plan to reach the "3 by 5" target of providing antiretroviral treatment to 3,000,000 people living with AIDS by the end of 2005.

The WHO’s strategic framework for emergency scaling up of antiretroviral therapy contains 14 key strategic elements. These elements fall into five categories – the pillars of the 3 by 5 campaign:

* Global leadership, strong partnership and advocacy

* Urgent, sustained country support

* Simplified, standardized tools for delivering antiretroviral therapy

* Effective, reliable supply of medicines and diagnostics

* Rapidly identifying and reapplying new knowledge + successes

The build up to this initiative seems to have been particularly well co-ordinated and it is interesting to see different organisations from the UN system working together on a shared project.

Progress has also been made possible because drug companies, which have previously been more worried about protecting their intellectual property rights than saving millions of lives in the developing world, are increasingly prepared to permit their patented drugs to be made in cheap, generic forms by poor countries facing a medical emergency which threatens to undermine their society + future.

Another exciting development is that combinations of drugs (which can lose their effectiveness if used incorrectly) can now be delivered via single tablets or packets... a simple step which on its own should improve the success of traditionally rather complicated + difficult to manage multi-drug treatment programmes.

See here for a series of graphics, produced by the BBC, which illustrate the negative impacts of HIV in Africa in terms of reduced life expectancy, household incomes, food security, numbers of workers + the survival of parents...

Why not check out this letter that Christian Aid have suggested you send to the UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, urging the UK to increase support for AIDS prevention + treatment, overseas aid + debt cancellation if you would like to do something constructive on this issue? It might just work...