WASHINGTON - After fresh criticism of his record on combating HIV/AIDS, President Barack Obama on Monday ordered a stepped up effort to deal with the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States.

An executive order from the White House, which follows renewed criticism of Obama's AIDS strategy during his visit to Africa in late June and early July, called for better coordination of the national effort.

Obama's order said that recent studies had shown that aggressive testing and early treatment can have a significant impact in preventing transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS.

"In light of these data, we must further clarify and focus our national efforts to prevent and treat HIV infection," it said. "This acceleration will enable us to meet the goals of the Strategy and move closer to an AIDS-free generation."

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