In announcing the good news from the latest global HIV/AIDS report that the virus is being beaten back more quickly than expected, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday made a pronouncement that would have been unthinkable 15 years ago. He said he believes that ending the epidemic in 2030 is not just ambitious, but realistic.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said that new HIV infections have fallen by 35 percent and AIDS-related deaths by 41 percent since 2000. Moreover, the world has reached its goal of getting 15 million people in life-saving HIV treatment nine months ahead of schedule, officials said.

"The world has delivered on halting and reversing the AIDS epidemic," Ban said. "Now we must commit to ending the AIDS epidemic."

The report offered a number of touch points that underscored the progress against the virus: By 2014, 85 countries had fewer than 50 new HIV infections among children, according to estimates. In 2015, Cuba became the first country to have eliminated mother-to-child transmission of the virus.

As quickly as new infections have been falling, AIDS-related deaths have been plummeting at an even faster rate. That change began in 2005.

"In 2000, AIDS was a death sentence. People who became infected with HIV had just a few years to live and the vast majority of children born with the virus died before they reached their fifth birthday," according to UNAIDS. "Against incredible odds, the pace of antiretroviral therapy scaled-up... ensuring more people remained alive and well."

This post has been updated.