UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon, in a message to mark World AIDS Day, on Thursday said the world is "finally in a position to end the epidemic."
As the disease enters its fourth decade, the secretary-general said in his message to mark World AIDS Day, which is observed annually on Dec. 1, that progress made so far can help the world realize the vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero," which reflects both optimism and the need to do much more in the fight against the epidemic.
"The number of new HIV infections has fallen by more than 20 percent since 1997," Ban said. "New infections are continuing to decline in most parts of the world."
In sub-Saharan Africa, the region most affected by the AIDS epidemic, HIV incidence has decreased in 22 countries, he said.
With the "tide shifting" for populations at risk, Ban said access to HIV prevention services are helping people to take control of their health for a greater well-being.
As treatment averted 2.5 million AIDS-related deaths since 1985, prevention and treatment have shown that progress has sped up, Ban said.
"But to end AIDS, we need to deliver even greater results," Ban said. In June, the United Nations General Assembly's High-Level Meeting on AIDS adopted a set of bold targets set for 2015, such as the reduction of the sexual transmission of HIV by half, eliminating new infections in children, providing treatment for 15 million people living with HIV, ending stigma and discrimination, and closing the AIDS funding gap.
"With strong political will, reasonable financial resources and a firm human rights-based approach, we can achieve all of these targets," Ban said.
Financing will be critical to success, he noted and urged the world to act on the investment framework put forward by the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and to fully fund the global investment target of up to 24 billion U.S. dollars annually.
"Momentum is on our side," Ban said. "Let us use it to end AIDS -- once and for all."
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and UNAIDS released their report on the global HIV/AIDS response which highlighted the fact that there is a very good chance of getting ahead of the epidemic.
World AIDS Day is celebrated on Dec. 1 each year around the world. It has become one of the most recognized international health days and a key opportunity to raise awareness, commemorate those who have passed on, and celebrate victories such as increased access to treatment and prevention services.