WHO/UNAIDS "3 by 5" Satellite Meeting focus on Testing and FDCs

11 July 2004, Bangkok -- HIV Testing and Fixed Dose combination antiretroviral therapy drugs topped discussions at the UNAIDS/World Health Organization (WHO) Satellite meeting on Sunday 11 July, 2004.

The issues were highlighted in two panel discussions at the event which attracted many treatment activists, medical and scientific experts and delegates from non-governmental organizations and national governments.

Opening the meeting, WHO Assistant Director General Dr Jack Chow insisted that the “3 by 5” target was achievable. “More funds, more political will and lower prices combine to produce the best environment ever for increasing the availability of AIDS treatment, prevention and care,” he said.

WHO and UNAIDS outlined some of the major challenges ahead, including the capacity of health systems and stigma.

Discussing ‘HIV testing for treatment access’, panel member Rolake Nwagwu of the Treatment Action Movement in Nigeria described her personal experience of testing and stated that “if testing and treatment are to be made more widely available, there must be better information and education for people to understand what it is they are being offered.”

Debates on Fixed Dose Combination (FDC) antiretroviral drugs highlighted progress being made and called for increased use of FDCs in ART and for rapid price reductions.

The satellite closed with a passionate appeal from Stephen Lewis, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa, who underlined once more the importance of reaching the "3 by 5" target. “The target has galvanised new efforts in the fight against AIDS and dismissed those who said it could not be done,” he said.