Rates of HIV infections in Australia are at their lowest level in ten years, according to new official figures.

However, experts have urged caution, saying the change may be due to new data collation methods.

In 2007, 1,051 diagnoses were made, compared with 995 in 2008.

The research was carried out by the University of New South Wales’ surveillance and evaluation programme for public health.

Head of the programme, associate professor David Wilson, told the Herald Sun: “This last year is the first year in the last decade that we have not seen an increase … but some of that might be tied to slight changes in methodology.

“I wouldn’t read too much into the small dip – the big point is we’re still at very high levels. Over the last three years, we’ve had around 1,000 cases and that’s much higher than where we were ten years ago.”

In the last ten years, numbers of HIV diagnoses in Australia have risen 38 per cent, from 718 cases in 1999.

Gay men remain the most affected group, with 64 per cent of diagnoses last year being of men who have sex with men.

Despite the rise, researchers were keen to point out that the numbers of those developing AIDS is falling.

In the early 1990s, around 1,000 people a year were being diagnosed with AIDS. Since 2001, this has been around 240 people each year.

Dr Jonathan Anderson, the president of the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine, said that more should be done to lower the number of new diagnoses.

However, he warned against using a “scare” campaign, saying he doubted it would work.