Governments should stand by their commitments to substantially reduce the number of Aids-related deaths by 2015, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said.
"I urge the international community to stand up to meet the commitments it has made," Ban said in his first report on HIV-Aids since the world community pledged in June 2011 to renew efforts to end HIV transmission in children and reduce Aids deaths.
"Together, we must foster a more sustainable response to the HIV epidemic for the sake of our common future," Ban said, highlighting the urgent need to make the international AIDS response "smarter, more strategic, more efficient, and grounded in human rights."
Discrimination against Aids patients
Governments meeting at the UN General Assembly in June 2011 pledged to deliver antiretroviral therapy to 15 million people by 2015, eliminate new HIV infections in children and halve the number of new HIV infections among adults and intravenous drug users. The declaration called for a "vision" for 2015 of zero new HIV infections, no discrimination and zero Aids-related deaths.
The UNAIDS organisation said this year's report, United to End Aids: Achieving the Targets of the 2011 Political Declaration, found that 2.5 million Aids deaths had been averted since 1995 because of greater access to antiretroviral therapy, and 350,000 new HIV infections had been averted in children.
Despite ongoing progress in combating HIV/Aids, the report warns that considerable gaps remain, including access to HIV services, discrimination against Aids patients and gender inequality.
Millions affected with Aids
"The fourth decade of Aids has to be marked as the decade that ushered in the end of Aids," said Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS. "We can make this a reality and seize the opportunity to secure a future free from HIV."
Since the epidemic began in the mid 1980s, more than 25 million people have died of Aids and HIV, the virus that causes the disease, has infected more than 40 million people around the world, the UN said.
Funding is a major weapon in the global fight against the disease. UNAIDS said a total of R116 billion was available in 2010 and up to R185 billion would be needed by 2015 in order to achieve goals set in that year.
(Sapa, April 2012)
Transmission of HIV