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We can beat AIDS, TB and Malaria, UN agencies says

A new joint report by UNAIDS, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) released today says that with the right intervention at the right time AIDS, TB and Malaria can be prevented and treated.

Crucially the agencies report that many of the interventions are not expensive and the prices of others are rapidly falling. The main challenge is to take these interventions to a global scale.

The report is released as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria meets in New York. It takes stock of what progress has been made in the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria and the challenges the world now faces in tackling them. The report draws on experience from a number of countries.

"A worldwide consensus has emerged to respond to AIDS, TB and malaria," the report says. The momentum of political will arises at the same time as evidence has built a technical consensus supporting a set of tools that are effective against these diseases. Targets have been set. Monitoring systems are being strengthened to identify progress and warn of failures.

"These three diseases hit children the hardest," said Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF. "We know what to do to overcome them. What we need now is the leadership and resources to reach out to all children."

"Any effective effort to reduce the burden of disease faced by the world's poorest people must concentrate on AIDS, TB and malaria," says Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of WHO. "We know this will not only save millions of lives - it will contribute to economic development and poverty reduction."

"The scale of devastation caused by HIV/AIDS is unmatched," says Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS. "But I believe even the world’s poorest countries are on the brink of making substantial progress with quality treatment and effective prevention programmes – and it is up to the international community to redouble our support for their efforts.""Coordinates 2002," is the first consolidated view of the extent of the three diseases, how they interact to worsen their impact and the effectiveness of current response efforts.

Among the main points of the report are:

Half of all new HIV infections are occurring among young people;

While Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest HIV prevalence followed by the Caribbean, the most rapid spread of the disease is in Eastern Europe and central Asia;

HIV and tuberculosis form a lethal combination, with 15% of all deaths of HIV infected people due to TB and with HIV causing a steep rise in TB cases in Africa over the past decade;

40% of the world's population is at risk from malaria. In some areas of Africa, more than 80% of children are infected with malaria parasites.

The most effective interventions against all three diseases rely on a combination of prevention and treatment;

Young people in developing countries still have far too little knowledge about HIV/AIDS and how it is transmitted. At least 30% of young people in 22 surveyed countries had never heard of AIDS and how it is transmitted. Up to 87% of 15-19 year olds do not believe they are at risk;

Fewer than 5% of the people who need treatment for AIDS in the developing world have access to the medicines they need;

Only one fifth of all TB cases globally receive high-quality treatment, yet pioneering countries like Vietnam and Peru have reached targets for detection and cure, showing it is possible to achieve the targets set;

In 28 African countries, half of the current antimalarial medicines on the market are ineffective due to bad quality or drug resistance;

A low estimate from the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health shows that a minimum of $8.1 billion annually in additional resources is needed to reduce the three diseases in developing countries;

A majority of the countries highly affected by AIDS, TB and malaria are ready with plans and programmes which need immediate funding;

Current resources of the Global Fund Against AIDS, TB and Malaria make up 11% of total needs.

For more information contact:

Mr Iain Simpson
Telephone: +41 22 791 3215
Mobile phone: +41 79 475 5534