Universal Access

Since 1981 when HIV/AIDS was first described, an estimated 60 million people have been infected with HIV, of whom some 20 million have died. UNAIDS reports that, globally, less than one person in five at risk of HIV has access to basic HIV prevention services. Only 15% of people who needed HIV treatment had access to it by mid-2005.

In 2003 only 300 000 of the 6 million people estimated to be in need of antiretroviral therapy in low an middle-income countries were receiving it. Therefore, the WHO and UNAIDS launched a global initiative to support countries in delivering antiretroviral therapy to 3 million people living with AIDS in these countries by 2005. The efforts taken resulted in 1.3 million people of the targeted countries having access to antiretroviral therapy. Although the target 3 by 5 was not met, its existence was important for mobilizing many stakeholders in an international effort to expand access to antiretroviral therapy and reinforced the need to intensify HIV prevention efforts simultaneously.

The 3 by 5 initiative has given momentum to the longer-term effort to attain the health-related Millennium-Goals. In 2005 the leaders of the G8 decided, in cooperation the WHO, UNAIDS and other international bodies, to develop and implement a package for HIV prevention, treatment and care, with the aim of coming as close as possible by universal access by 2010. The United Nations increased resources to reach these goals. The long-term goal is that by 2015, the spread of HIV/ AIDS is halted and reversed.

In 2006 UNAIDS supported more than 100 countries to undertake national consultations in how to reach this goal. Scaling up towards universal access requires a comprehensive health-sector response aimed at HIV/ AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support.

The WHO’s contribution to progress towards universal access by 2010 will de based on five strategic directions:

  • enable more people to know their HIV status through confidential testing and counselling
  • maximize the health sector’s contribution in six main areas of HIV prevention:a. mother-child-transmission of HIV
    b. sexual transmission (especially for young people and high-risk populations)
    c. transmission through injecting drug use
    d. transmission in health-care settings
    e. people living with HIV/ AIDS
    f. new technologies
  • A strong continuing support for scaling-up HIV/ AIDS treatment and care
  • Better strategic information to guide more effective responses at global and national levels through tracking the course of the HIV epidemic and providing useful data for policy making and improved delivery services.
  • Support countries in implanting HIV/ AIDS services and policies in ways that have the maximum beneficial impact on health systems as a whole(source: WHO, 2006).