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MUCH AIDS KNOWLEDGE IS STILL `GOING TO WASTE'

Scientists have made great strides in treating and staving off AIDS in patients, but millions of infected people, including sizeable numbers in the United States, aren't seeing the benefits.

Concern abounded at last week's six-day conference of the world's top AIDS specialists that much of what scientists have learned in the deadly virus' first decade is being wasted.The conference produced a 21/2-inch thick book containing abstracts of 3,216 studies, many showing good results from trials of new anti-AIDS drugs and potential vaccines.

But a recurring theme during the forum's several hundred scientific presentations was that many of the millions of people infected with the HIV virus that triggers AIDS aren't reaping the benefits of progress.

"We've become terribly wasteful of what we have learned," said Jonathan Mann, of the Harvard School of Public Health, in one of the closing speeches Friday.

"The developing world is still unaffected by therapy," said Mann.

The U.N.'s World Health Organization says AIDS cases should peak in North America and Western Europe in the mid-1990s. The leveling off is attributed largely to the adoption of safe-sex practices by many homosexual men.

But HIV is spreading fast in parts of Asia, and there's no plateau in sight in Africa. WHO estimates sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 90 percent of AIDS cases in adults worldwide.