Ahead of the International AIDS Conference in Washington DC, a new report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) notes that the number of deaths from the disease worldwide fell 5.6% last year.

The analysis notes that as international funding flattens, more countries are increasing their own share of investments for HIV and that a record 8 million people are now receiving antiretroviral therapy. Low- and middle-income countries invested $8.6 billion in 2011, an increase of 11% over the previous year, though international funding remained flat at 2008 levels ($8.2 billion).

According to the report, 81 countries increased their domestic investments for AIDS by more than 50% between 2006 and 2011. Over that period, BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) increased their spending on HIV by more than 120%.

Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, said that "this is an era of global solidarity and mutual accountability [and] countries most affected by the epidemic are taking ownership and demonstrating leadership in responding to HIV". However, the organisation warns that while domestic investments in AIDS are increasing, there is still a large shortfall in global funding for HIV; by 2015, the estimated annual gap will be $7 billion.

UNAIDS notes that "despite the substantial numbers of people newly starting treatment, it is only just over half (54%) of the 14.8 million people eligible". The data shows that 34.2 million people were living with HIV in 2011 and new infections have fallen by nearly 20% in the last ten years worldwide.

Some 2.5 million people were newly-infected with HIV, 100,000 fewer than 2010 and of the 4.9 million young people living with the disease, 75% of them live in sub-Saharan Africa. Mr Sidibe said that “every dollar spent on AIDS is an investment, not an expenditure,” and "we need to look beyond and keep our sights set firmly on realising our vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths".

He concluded by saying "we will end AIDS. The question is not if but when".