More than half a million people developed AIDS worldwide in the past decade, but "the worst is yet to come," an expert said at an international AIDS symposium.

"There is clearly going to be a wave that makes the experience of the '80s look relatively small - at least a 10-fold increase," said Dr. Jonathan Mann, director of the International AIDS Center at the Harvard School of Public Health."This is still a very new pandemic," Mann told delegates at a conference Thursday sponsored by the Morehouse School of Medicine and the federal government's Research Centers in Minority Institutions. "The worst is yet to come."

A pandemic is an epidemic over a large region.

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 in Africa, and 1 million in the United States.

A comparatively low 600,000 AIDS cases occurred worldwide in the 1980s, he said.