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WHO: Poor access to AIDS drugs

From CNN Medical Correspondent Christy Feig

Mayo Clinic

BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- Only about 14 percent of the six million people infected with HIV in developing countries who need immediate access to AIDS medicine are receiving it, according to a World Health Organization report.

The report was released Saturday, a day before the start of the 15th International AIDS Conference in Bangkok.

The statistics are from six-month progress report of the WHO's "three by five" program launched last December with the goal of having three million people on HIV treatment by the end of 2005.

The 440,000 who are receiving AIDS medicine is a lower figure than the 500,000 people the organization had hoped to have in treatment at this point in the program.

Funding for the program is also behind schedule. About $40 million has been raised, much lower than the six-month goal of $84 million.

The WHO report shows that the cost of AIDS medicine has decreased to somewhere between $150 and $450 per person per year, but most developing countries can only afford to spend less than $1 per person per year on health care.

The theme for the International Aids Conference, which gets underway Sunday and ends July 16, is "access for all."

Earlier this week, the United Nations released its annual AIDS report, revealing that almost 5 million people became infected with HIV last year -- the largest number of new infections since the disease was discovered in 1981.

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