WHO’s HIV/AIDS strategy under the spotlight
Dr Jim Yong Kim, Director of HIV/AIDS Department, talks to the Bulletin about “3 by 5” – the global strategy which aims to provide three million people in developing countries with antiretroviral treatment by 2005
The cost of second-line drug regimens are monumental by comparison to first-line regimens. How will countries care for patients who have failed to respond to first-line regimens?
“This is a big challenge. There is no question that the cost is much higher. One of the top priorities of WHO’s AIDS Medicines and Diagnostics Service is to look into this issue and try to bring these costs down to the level of first-line regimens in a very short period of time. I am hopeful that this issue can be resolved fairly quickly.”
Countries have to become TRIPS (trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights) compliant by 2005. Is this going to drive up the cost of ART and how will this affects countries’ abilities to provide treatment for “3 by 5”?
“TRIPS compliance doesn’t necessarily mean that the cost of ART will go up. If drug prices were to rise, I think that the HIV community including different civil society actors would respond by re-affirming the spirit of Doha and its relationship to public health. TRIPS confirms the importance of trade and intellectual property but it also says that these issues are not more important than public health disasters like HIV/AIDS. In 2005, we may have to negotiate again but we think and hope that the conclusion will be the same. Protecting public health in the face of emergencies and other disasters like HIV/AIDS must take priority.”
What has been achieved since the launch of “3 by 5”?
“WHO has sent teams to 37 countries and we now have a much better idea of what is and is not happening at the country level. As a result of that, we have been able to develop a clear and focused business plan and to define the specifics of WHO’s role. We now know that WHO has more to offer in some areas but not in others and we know what has already been done by the countries themselves and by other partners. WHO is learning every day how to be a better partner.
“We have produced some very good tools: clinical guidelines, monitoring standards, training materials that are currently being used in countries. We need to do more, and we will. Right now, we are doing everything we can to help bring all the players together because the whole world needs to rally around this incredible challenge if we are going to reach “3 by 5”.”