UNITED NATIONS, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Senior UN officials on Friday warned that despite significant gains, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is far from over, urging more investment and innovation to end the global scourge.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the UN General Assembly's annual meeting on review of progress in tackling HIV/AIDS that the number of people accessing HIV treatment globally increased nearly 20 percent between 2011 and 2012 alone.
In his latest report on the issue, Ban outlined progress achieved in the 10 target areas designed to halt and reverse the spread of HIV and AIDS by the end of 2015, as set out three years ago by world leaders in the 2011 Political Declaration.
He said that the world is making "solid headway" in meeting some of the targets and commitments from the Declaration, such as expanding treatment access, eliminating HIV infections among children and keeping their mothers alive, and mobilizing resources.
"We have the tools, the science and the knowledge to end AIDS once and for all. But we cannot let confidence turn to complacency, " he stated.
"Progress remains uneven," Ban warned, noting that two out of three children who need treatment do not get it; death rates among adolescents are increasing; and epidemics in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa are getting worse.
Also, progress is lagging on targets such as reducing sexual transmission by 50 percent and halving HIV transmission among people who inject drugs. Stigma, discrimination and criminalization of people who are the most vulnerable to HIV are also getting worse in parts of the world, he added.
In his remarks, General Assembly President John Ashe told the 193-member body that Ban's report sends a clear message that the global solidarity and joint efforts of the international community are yielding significant gains against the epidemic, and bringing about an historic opportunity to lay the foundation for ending AIDS.
"However, AIDS will remain a global challenge beyond 2015, and sustained commitment and efforts will be required if we are indeed to defeat this scourge," he said.
He noted in particular that the number of new HIV infections is still unacceptably high, at 2.3 million in 2012. Also, more than half of people in need of anti-retroviral treatment do not have access to it -- with a glaring gap in access to paediatric treatment.
"Having put forward so much investment and effort by all stakeholders -- and with so many lives still on the line -- it is a moral imperative to seize the opportunity of getting the job done," he said.