About the 3 by 5 Initiative

On World AIDS Day 2003, WHO and UNAIDS released a detailed and concrete plan to reach the 3 by 5 target of providing antiretroviral treatment to three million people living with AIDS in developing countries and those in transition by the end of 2005. This is a vital step towards the ultimate goal of providing universal access to AIDS treatment to all those who need it.


  • 30 million people have died in two decades. 40 million more people are infected.
  • In poor countries, 6 million people with HIV/AIDS need immediate ART. Less than 8% get it.
  • Worst hit is sub-Saharan Africa. With 28.5 million people infected, HIV/AIDS has destroyed communities, health care systems and put a shadow upon the future of entire countries.


  • ART prolongs lives, making HIV/AIDS a chronic disease, not a death sentence. Affluent countries have seen a 70% decline in HIV/AIDS deaths.
  • ART will help calm fears and change attitudes towards HIV.
  • ART, as part of a prevention plan, can significantly reduce HIV transmission.
  • ART, once very costly, is now much more affordable.
  • ART can reduce overall health care costs and restore quality of life.
  • WHO and UNAIDS are working to make ART accessible to all.

WHAT WILL 3 by 5 DO?

To reach the 3 by 5 target, WHO and UNAIDS will focus on five critical areas:

  • Simplified, standardized tools to deliver antiretroviral therapy.
  • A new service to ensure an effective, reliable supply of medicines and diagnostics.
  • Rapid identification, dissemination and application of new knowledge and successful strategies.
  • Urgent, sustained support for countries.
  • Global leadership, strong partnership and advocacy.


  • The 3 by 5 target is to distribute antiretroviral treatment to 3 million people in 50 developing countries by the end of 2005.
  • To do so, WHO, countries and other partners need to train 100 000 health workers, develop health systems and build infrastructure and standards.
  • 3 by 5 has an estimated funding gap of US$ 5.5 billion over current commitments.

‘The highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being, without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social conditions’
Constitution of WHO