Ebola poses a threat equivalent to AIDS and will become just as deadly without further action, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden said Thursday.
The remark is part of a marked increase in the intensity of warnings about Ebola from Frieden, the Obama administration's point man in communicating to the public about the virus.
"I've been working in public health for 30 years," Frieden told a World Bank and International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington.
"The only thing like this has been AIDS. And we have to work now so that this is not the world's next AIDS," Frieden said.
The AIDS pandemic started in Africa in the 1980s and has killed 36 million people. It took more than a decade to develop effective treatments to cut the death rate and even longer to erase the stigma associated with AIDS.
The current Ebola epidemic — a first of its kind in world history — has killed nearly 4,000 people since last year and shows little sign of abating in three West African countries.
The U.S. government is increasingly urgent in its rhetoric about Ebola, even as the global response falters due to bureaucratic wrangling and a lack of preparation and resources.
NBC News, which reported Frieden's comments, said several countries made pledges Thursday to participate further in the Ebola fight.