Data from the 2010 UNAIDS Report on global AIDS shows that an estimated 2.6 million people became newly infected with HIV, compared with the estimated 3.1 million people infected in 1999.
In 2009, approximately 1.8 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses, compared with the roughly 2.1 million in 2004, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said in a news release.
Among young people in 15 of the most severely affected countries, the rate of new HIV infections has fallen by more than 25 percent, led by young people adopting safer sexual practices, according to UNAIDS.
"We are breaking the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic with bold actions and smart choices," Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, said. "Investments in the AIDS response are paying off, but gains are fragile -- the challenge now is how we can all work to accelerate progress."
The 2010 report includes HIV data from 182 countries.
But not all the news is good.
"Even though the number of new HIV infections is decreasing, there are two new HIV infections for every one person starting HIV treatment," UNAIDS said.
Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the region most affected by the epidemic, with 69 percent of all new HIV infections, according to UNAIDS.
In seven countries, mostly in eastern Europe and central Asia, new HIV infection rates have increased by 25 percent.
UNAIDS said in the Asia-Pacific region, 90 percent of countries have laws that obstruct the rights of people living with HIV.
Despite the lower numbers of new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths, UNAIDS said the demand for resources is surpassing the supply.
"Donor governments' disbursements for the AIDS response in 2009 stood at $7.6 billion, lower than the $7.7 billion available in 2008," UNAIDS said. "Declines in international investments will affect low-income countries the most -- nearly 90 percent rely on international funding for their AIDS programs."