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The AIDS crisis is getting worse and not better, with an estimated 8 million people infected, international AIDS experts and America's top health official said Thursday.

``The worst is yet to come,' said Dr. Jonathan Mann, director of the International AIDS Center at Harvard, speaking to a worldwide AIDS symposium in Atlanta.Mann cited projections saying at least 8 million people worldwide are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. That includes an estimated 5 million infected people in Africa and 2 million in the Americas. U.S. health officials estimate that 1 million people are infected in the United States.

A comparatively low 600,000 people worldwide actually developed AIDS in the 1980s, Mann said.

``We are just beginning to experience what this pandemic will bring,' Mann said. A pandemic is an epidemic over a large region. ``There is clearly going to be a wave that makes the experience of the '80s look relatively small - at least a 10-fold increase.'

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan again defended the Bush administration's AIDS programs. ``We are doing a lot more than most realize, and much more than any other nation,' he said.

The conference, which continues through Saturday, is sponsored by the Morehouse School of Medicine, where Sullivan served as president, and the government's Research Centers in Minority Institutions.

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