An increasing number of people around the world are living with AIDS due to better access to drugs, the United Nations AIDS programme (UNAIDS) has revealed.

In a phone interview with Reuters, UNAIDS director Michel Sidibe said the past 12 months had been a "game-changing year" in the global AIDS fight, as deaths have been averted in poor and middle-income countries.

"We’ve never had a year when there has been so much science, so much leadership and such results in one year," Sidibe told the news agency.

There are now 31 HIV drugs on the market compared to six at the end of 2004. Major producers include Gilead, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline.

UNAIDS said in its annual report that 47% of the 14.2 million people eligible for treatment in low and middle-income countries are receiving it, and 2.5 million deaths have been averted in these countries since 1995.