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updated 2/22/2012 3:52:16 PM ET 2012-02-22T20:52:16

The Obama administration declared Alzheimer's "one of the most-feared health conditions" on Wednesday as it issued a draft of the nation's first strategy to fight the devastating disease that is on the rise as the population ages.

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The top goal: Find some effective treatments by 2025, an ambitious quest. The plan also aims to help overwhelmed families care for affected loved ones in the meantime, and to improve earlier diagnosis so that patients can have a say in choosing their care.

The plan says that too often, stigma and misinformation about Alzheimer's and related dementias delay diagnosis and contribute to the isolation that worsens caregivers' burden. So among the promised first steps is a major campaign to better educate the public, and their primary care doctors, about Alzheimer's.

The effort was applauded by Alzheimer's disease advocates as a long-needed step toward addressing the pervasive problem. Eric J. Hall, president and CEO of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America said the plan will be part of a "series of small victories" to address prevention, delay and, eventually, cure of the disorder.

“AFA applauds HHS for making tremendous efforts and headway in capturing the unprecedented opportunity afforded by the National Alzheimer’s Project Act to address the multiple challenges of Alzheimer’s disease," Hall said in a statement. "As well, we reiterate our appreciation of the Obama Administration’s historic $156 million investment that will enable immediate action on ideas developed through the national plan."

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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