The world's highest AIDS rates are in Africa, a continent where health officials are ill-equipped to cope with the disease, experts at an AIDS symposium said Saturday.

"AIDS comes on top of Africa's already intolerable burden of economic, social and health problems," said Dr. Nzilambi Nzila, deputy director of a Kinshasa, Zaire, AIDS project."The countries which have been most affected are the countries least able to handle this problem," said Dr. P.K. Kataaha, presenting a report from Ugandan health officials.

Some 65,000 AIDS cases have been officially reported in Africa, but the World Health Organization estimates the true total is probably closer to 500,000. In some countries, such as Uganda, health officials estimate that one person in every five is already infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

In contrast, about 150,000 cases have been recorded in the United States.