A new report says it will cost up to $51 billion dollars to achieve universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS by the year 2010. The report from UNAIDS says despite progress in scaling-up treatment, current efforts are falling far short of helping all those in need.

The goal to achieve near universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment by 2010 was set at the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland in 2005. The UNAIDS report says not only will that goal not be met under current conditions, but neither will the Millennium Development Goal of halting or reversing the pandemic by 2015.

UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Michel Sidibe says the world failed to act fast enough to battle HIV/AIDS.

?So the situation today is that we simply are not spending enough or doing enough. The world didn?t act early enough and we are now paying the price. If the world had invested in the AIDS response 10 or 20 years ago, both the financial cost and the human cost would be lower today,? he says.

The human cost is well over 20 million dead and about 40 million people living with HIV. The financial cost is currently about $10 billion dollars a year, up from less than $300 million in 1996.

Paul De Lay, UNAIDS director of evidence, monitoring and policy, agrees current efforts to scale-up anti-retroviral treatment are inadequate.

?If we continue to scale-up treatment for instance, we?ll only have about 4.6 million people on treatment by 2010 and about eight million people on treatment by 2015. This represents less than half of those who would need to be started on treatment based on the new ways of assessing ART (anti-retroviral treatment) need,? he says.

meet the 2010 goal of universal access, it would cost between $32 billion and $51 billion.

De Lay says there?s also a secondary plan to meeting access goals ? a phased approach calling for different rates of scale-up for each country.

?Essentially all countries would get to how we define universal access, but not necessarily by 2010. Some would get there in 2011, 2012. Almost all would achieve it by 2015. This phased approach would need an estimate of between $21 to $34 billion in 2010 to $41 to $58 billion, that range, in 2015,? he says.

De Lay says this approach would put eight million people on treatment by 2010 and 18 million by 2015.

The UNAIDS report says more than 70 percent of people in need did not have access to HIV/AIDS treatment in 2006.