Nairobi - The United Nations Aids group warned on Sunday of a massive $3-billion (almost R22-billion) shortfall in funding to fight the disease in sub-Saharan Africa where almost 30 million people are living with HIV and Aids.
"Even with recent increases in Aids spending, the mismatch between need and funding continues to be one of the biggest obstacles in the struggle to control the epidemic," UNAids said in a report.
Without the cash countries in sub-Saharan Africa - where 10 million young people (aged 15-24) and almost three million children under 15 live with HIV - it will be unable to effectively implement or expand prevention and treatment programmes, the organisation said.
The report said only half of the $6-billion (about R44-billion) needed to fight HIV and Aids in sub-Saharan Africa by 2005 was likely to be raised.
UNAids officials said they had included in their projections United States President George Bush's five-year, $15-billion plan to combat Aids in African and Caribbean countries as well as other donor pledges.
The report said without an expanded programme of prevention and treatment, the Aids death toll was expected to continue rising before peaking at around the end of this decade.
It said limited access to anti-retroviral treatment was one of the factors hampering Africa's fight against HIV and Aids. Only 50 000 people were receiving the treatment at the end of 2002, it said - about one percent of those who need it.
"The stakes could not be higher. The effects of Aids in Africa are eroding decades of development efforts," the organisation said in its report.
"In high prevalence countries, families are unravelling, economies are slowing down, and social services deteriorating," the report said.
HIV has a 6,8 percent prevalence rate in sub-Saharan Africa, although it varies between 39 percent in Botswana to under one percent in Senegal.
UNAids also called on governments to reduce the vulnerability of women and girls who account for almost 60 percent of infected people in sub-Saharan Africa.
The report - "Accelerating Action Against Aids In Africa" - was released on the opening day of the Kenya-hosted 13th International Conference on Aids and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa.
It was also timed a day before the United Nations General Assembly in New York gathers for a special one-day session on Aids, marked by speeches from world figures, including Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, French President Jacques Chirac and US Secretary of State Colin Powell.