HIV-related deaths last year fell to around 770,000 - some 33% than in 2010, according to the United Nations.

But the UN warned that global efforts to eradicate the disease were stalling as funding dries up.

An estimated 37.9 million people now live with HIV. A record 23.3 million of those have access to some antiretroviral therapy (ART), UNAIDS said in its annual report.

Highlighting the enormous progress made since the height of the AIDS epidemic in the mid-1990s, the report showed that the number people dying from the disease fell from 800,000 in 2017 to 770,000 last year.

The figure was down by more than a third from 2010, when there were 1.2 million AIDS-related deaths.

But it also exposed weaknesses in the world's fight against AIDS.

While AIDS-related deaths in Africa, the continent most affected by the epidemic, have plummeted this decade, Eastern Europe has seen the death toll rise 5% and the Middle East and North Africa 9%.

Year-on-year, those same regions saw a 29% and 10% rise in new infections, respectively.

"We urgently need increased political leadership to end AIDS," said Gunilla Carlsson, UNAIDS executive director.

"Ending AIDS is possible if we focus on people not diseases... and take a human rights-based approach to reaching people most affected by HIV."

Decades of research have yet to yield a cure or vaccine for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which has infected almost 80 million people and killed more than 35 million since the early 1980s.

The UN said that more than half of new HIV infections globally come from "key populations" - intravenous drug users, gay men, transgender people, sex workers and prisoners.

Despite this, the report said that under 50% of these at-risk populations were reached by HIV prevention services in more than half of countries.

Peter Ghys, UNAIDS strategic information director, said that the 16% reduction in new infections since 2010 was way behind the global aim of a 75% fall by next year.

"Incident reductions are just too slow to reach the target that has been set out," he said.