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WHO Increases World AIDS Estimate by 50%

November 12, 1987|Reuters

GENEVA — The World Health Organization raised its estimate of worldwide AIDS cases by 50% today and said finding a vaccine may take longer than experts had thought.

In material distributed for a two-day conference on the deadly AIDS virus, the organization estimated that as many as 150,000 people have contracted the disease.

A March WHO report estimated 100,000 people had contracted acquired immune deficiency syndrome. More than 62,500 cases of AIDS from 127 countries have been reported to the organization.

Halfdan Mahler, the organization's director general, painted a bleak picture at the start of the conference on AIDS, which destroys the body's ability to fend off disease.

'Frustratingly Slow'

"My scientific sources tell me that a vaccine may be even further away than we thought a year ago, and development of therapeutic agents has been frustratingly . . . slow," he said.

AIDS experts have said that a vaccine against the virus will take years to develop and that to have a vaccine ready in five years would be an outstanding medical achievement.

Some experts suggest that a vaccine may never be found because of the virus's extraordinary ability to change form.

Mahler noted that "available evidence indicates that the virus is continuing to spread and the number of AIDS cases climbs steadily."

The WHO estimates that 5 million to 10 million people in the world are silent carriers of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS but have not as yet developed the disease.

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