London: As the numbers infected with incurable human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) keeps falling, experts are hopeful that AIDS could be eradicated in future due to better access to drugs that can both treat and prevent it, according to a UN report.
Some 34 million people had HIV by 2011. Worldwide, the number of people newly infected with the disease, which can be transmitted via blood and by semen during sex, is falling, it said.
At 2.5 million, the number of new infections in 2011 was 20 percent lower than in 2001. Deaths from AIDS also fell to 1.7 million in 2011, down from a peak of 2.3 million in 2005 and from 1.8 million in 2010.
The report said this allowed the "foundation to be laid for the eventual end of AIDS". In 2012, over 100,000 people are living with HIV in the UK. Of these, a quarter do not know they are carrying the virus, according to the Daily Mail.
However, sub-Saharan Africa is the most severely affected region with almost one in every 20 adults infected with it, nearly 25 times the rate in Asia.
There are also almost five million people with HIV in South, south-east and east Asia combined.
"Although AIDS remains one of the world`s most serious health challenges, global solidarity in the AIDS response during the past decade continues to generate extraordinary health gains," the report said.
Since 1995, AIDS drug treatment - known as anti-retroviral therapy (ART) - has saved 14 million life-years in poorer countries, including 9 million in sub-Saharan Africa, the report said.