A new United Nations report urges a massive effort to combat HIV infection, which it says has reached the highest number of people ever resulting in 3 million deaths from AIDS in the past year.

Tuesday's report said there are 39.4 million people infected with HIV worldwide, with an increase in infection levels in every area of the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the area worst-hit by the disease, followed by the Caribbean. An increasing proportion of those infected are women.

The problem persists, the report says, despite increased prevention efforts such as AIDS education and voluntary testing and counseling. Despite a rise in funding, nine out of 10 people who need antiretroviral therapy are still not receiving it. The study says ultimately, only controlling HIV infection can make AIDS treatment affordable and sustainable.