While more people than ever are accessing HIV treatment – including an estimated 420,000-460,000 children – millions who need care are not receiving it, according to a new report released by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

“AIDS at 30: shows that an estimated 6.6 million people in low- and middle-income countries were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV/AIDS at the end of 2010, -- a big jump from the 1.4 million receiving care the previous year.

"The impressive new estimates are an important milestone in the public health response to HIV that began 30 years ago," said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. "But we have much to do to reach the goal of universal access, and doing more of the same will not get us there. We need further innovation in HIV, including simpler and more accessible prevention and treatment approaches for all those in need."

The new HIV treatment figures show a 16-fold increase in the number of people receiving ART between 2003 and 2010. While this is an impressive achievement, about nine million more people were eligible for ART but were not receiving it in 2010.

A new global health strategy for HIV/AIDS

Closing the remaining gap through more effective HIV programmes is a central theme of the new WHO Global Health Sector Strategy on HIV/AIDS for 2011-2015 that was recently endorsed by the Sixty-fourth World Health Assembly.

"Innovation in finding more optimal ways to deliver HIV services is key," said Dr Gottfried Hirnschall, WHO's Director of HIV/AIDS Department. "For example, by linking HIV with other health services such as for maternal and child health, tuberculosis, drug dependence and primary care, we will greatly increase the coverage of HIV interventions and also achieve broader health outcomes."

The Global Health Sector Strategy on HIV/AIDS for 2011-2015 will guide actions by WHO and its member countries to strengthen health systems and address inequalities and human rights violations that are impeding access to HIV prevention, treatment, and care services.