2.5 million infected with HIV in 2015

Cambodian health authorities carry out regular blood tests to monitor the spread of HIV (AAP)
Cambodian health authorities carry out regular blood tests to monitor the spread of HIV (AAP)

A new study reveals the number of people dying from HIV and AIDS is in decline but the rate of new infections remains the same.

The Global Burden of Disease report estimates 2.5 million people worldwide became infected with HIV in 2015, a number which has remained relatively stable over the past decade.

The annual number of new infections peaked at 3.3 million per year in 1997.  Rates then fell by 2.7 percent each year until 2005.

Since then, there's been a slow pace of decline in new infections, with estimates of a drop of just 0.7 percent each year between 2005 and 2015.

In New Zealand, the number of people diagnosed with HIV increased in the past two years, although rates remain low by international standards.

Currently around 3200 people in New Zealand are estimated to have HIV, with 224 diagnosed in 2015.

But the annual deaths from HIV and AIDS have been steadily declining, from a global peak of 1.8 million in 2005 to 1.2 million in 2015.

"Although scale-up of antiretroviral therapy and measures to prevent mother-to-child transmission have had a huge impact on saving lives, our new findings present a worrying picture of slow progress in reducing new HIV infections over the past 10 years", says lead author Dr Haidong Wang from the University of Washington.

Dr Virginie Supervie and Dr Dominique Costagliola from Sorbonne University say the report may underestimate the problem.

"The GBD estimates of HIV incidence are significantly lower (two to ten times) than the reported number of newly diagnosed HIV cases for most countries in North America, Europe, central Asia, and Australia," they say.

"Without timely and reliable assessment of HIV incidence it will be impossible to end the HIV epidemic."

Key report findings: