The number of HIV carriers newly confirmed in 2023 in Japan rose by 37 from the previous year to 669, the first increase in seven years, the health ministry has said.

The ministry attributed the rise to a recovery in the number of HIV test takers after a drop due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The combined number of new AIDS patients and other HIV carriers came to 960, according to preliminary data released by the ministry on Tuesday.

The number of HIV antibody tests conducted at public health centers and elsewhere increased by 33,033 to 106,137, and that of related consultation cases rose by 19,079 to 86,088.

Of the new HIV carriers, 84% were infected through sexual contact. The proportion stood at 69% among AIDS patients.

Men accounted for 90% of both new HIV carriers and AIDS patients.

The ministry's AIDS surveillance committee called on the public to take free and anonymous HIV tests available at public health centers and elsewhere.