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CDC Director on Ebola: 'The Only Thing Like This Has Been AIDS'

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged action Thursday so Ebola "is not the world's next AIDS."

The widening Ebola epidemic is reminiscent of the health threat caused by AIDS, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday, urging action so Ebola "is not the world's next AIDS."

"In the 30 years I've been working in public health, the only thing like this has been AIDS," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said at a World Bank and International Monetary Fund annual meeting in Washington, D.C., where many countries pledged funds and services to try to stem the virus ravaging West Africa. "And we have to work now so that this is not the world's next AIDS."

AIDS also started in Africa, and experts agree it spread to cause a global pandemic because the world was slow to recognize it and fight it. Many leaders denied the virus caused the disease, and others blamed the patients for catching it.

Frieden spoke a day after Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, died in a Dallas hospital. Meanwhile, in West Africa, 8,033 people have been diagnosed with Ebola and 3,879 have died, the World Health Organization said Wednesday, adding that the true numbers were almost definitely higher.

AIDS has killed 36 million people since it started a pandemic in the 1980s. The human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS currently infects about 35 million people. Like Ebola, HIV is spread through bodily fluids.


—Elizabeth Chuck