About 1050 new cases of HIV were reported last year, a level not reached since 1993. The numbers had remained relatively stable for four years, giving researchers hope that the disease was being restrained.
''There will always be people who have missed the key message, or don't remember the awful days when all their friends died, but the majority of people have embraced [safe sex],'' said Edwina Wright, the vice-president of the Australasian Society of HIV Medicine.
''The reality is the figures have plateaued,'' Dr Wright said. ''Of course, we'd like to see only 500 people or less being diagnosed each year, but it is clear the education campaigns have worked.''
David Wilson, from the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, agreed, saying HIV research and education campaigns had been victims of their own success.
He said the success of anti-retroviral drugs could also have made the disease less frightening to younger men.
''It is still a life-altering diagnoses but it is not the death sentence it once was, if it is treated, so perhaps people are not as fearful.''
''We can help people live relatively normal life expectancies if they stick to a drug regime, but that means they are around to spread the virus to others for decades.''