- BOSTON (Reuters) -- Unless
the search for a cure for AIDS accelerates or preventive methods improve,
the worst of the HIV epidemic has yet to come, the director of the National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases predicted Wednesday.
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, writing in the New England Journal
of Medicine, said, "What began as a handful of recognized cases among
homosexual men in the United States has become a global pandemic of such
proportions that it clearly ranks as one of the most destructive microbial
scourges in history.
- "Unless methods of prevention, with or without a
vaccine, are successful, the worst of the global pandemic will occur in
the 21st century," he said.
- In the United States, the number of new HIV cases each
year has leveled off at 40,000 people, half of them under 25.
- However, the number of new cases elsewhere is growing
- "Sub-Saharan Africa (is) currently bearing the greatest
burden of the epidemic worldwide," Fauci said. The infection rate
in the former Soviet Union "has escalated sharply over the past few
years," and the virus threatened to invade the Indian subcontinent
and Southeast Asia.
- "An estimated 5.8 million new HIV infections occurred
worldwide during 1998 -- approximately 16,000 each day. More than 95 percent
of these new infections occurred in developing countries," he said.
- Some 2.3 million people worldwide died last year from
contracting the human immunodeficiency virus, which leads to acquired immune
- "If the current trend ... continues, more than 40
million people will be infected with HIV as we enter the new millennium,"
- He said "minimizing the destructive impact of this
epidemic will require partnerships between the public and private sectors
as well as a stronger political will among the nations of the world."