The number of Israelis who tested positive for the HIV virus rose slightly last year, the Health Ministry said Tuesday.
The increase in 2018 marked the second consecutive year of increase in the number of people who have tested positive for HIV.
Citing preliminary statistics, the Health Ministry said 425 Israelis over 15 years of age tested positive for the virus in 2018, up from 405 in 2017.
The increases over the past two years comes after there was a drop in the number of new HIV cases in each of the four preceding years.
Among the new cases, the number of HIV-positive men who have sexual relations with other men dropped from 148 in 2017 to 123 last year. Overall, the number of men found to be carrying the virus held largely steady at 283 in 2018, down very slightly from 289 the year before.
The increase from 2017 to 2018 was due completely to a rise in new cases among women, with 142 testing positive last year compared to 115 in the previous year, according to ministry data.
The demographic subgroup with the largest number of new cases last year was men between ages 35 and 44.
The Health Ministry did not say why it believes there has been a rise after years of declines, but called on the public to continue to use condoms during casual sex.
The ministry said the final statistics for 2018 would be released in December by its Tuberculosis and Aids Department.
According to the Israel AIDS Task Force, a non-governmental organization, there were 7,745 people in the country with HIV or AIDS as of 2017.