HIV figures hit 20-year high after 10% jump last year

SEXUALLY active people must remain vigilant in the face of the largest rise in new HIV diagnoses in 20 years last year, Federal health Minister Peter Dutton has urged.

Mr Dutton, in celebrating World Aids Day on Sunday, said the number of HIV cases confirmed in Australia jumped 10% last year.

He said it was the biggest jump in positive diagnoses in 20 years, with 1253 new cases confirmed in 2012.

"Australia has one of the lowest infection rates in the world, but the number of newly diagnosed cases of HIV infections has started to climb over the past few years," he said.

"It shows that we must remain vigilant in combating this disease."

Mr Dutton's comments follow similar thoughts from Burmese democratic leader Aug San Suu Kyi, in Australia this week to promote World Aids Day.

The respected democratic campaigner said the disease was not just physical, but also entailed "a lot of social discrimination and this also we have to fight against".

"We need to make people understand that those who are different from us are not necessarily wrong or evil and that they do not have to be fought or opposed, but that they need to be understood, because our nation is a nation of many different peoples with different aspirations," she said.

Australia will host the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne next July, with an expected 18,000 delegates from 200 countries committed to fighting HIV-AIDS globally.