Bush, Obama Mark World AIDS Day, Discuss HIV/AIDS Fight
President Bush on Monday in honor of World AIDS Day highlighted "his dramatic and widely praised overhaul of U.S. efforts to combat the deadly disease, particularly in Africa," AFP/Google.com reports. President-elect Barack Obama on Monday also praised the Bush administration for its involvement in global HIV/AIDS efforts and pledged to continue the fight against the disease once he takes office in January (AFP/Google.com, 12/1). According to Bush, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has reached its goal of providing antiretroviral drugs to two million people over five years (Feller, AP/USA Today, 12/1). Bush said, "When you have somebody say there's a pandemic, that you can help, and you do nothing about it, then you have, frankly, disgraced the office" (AFP/Google.com, 12/1).
Bush on Monday also participated in the Rev. Rick Warren's first Civil Forum on Global Health to discuss his work in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Warren said, "No world leader has done more for global health than President George Bush," adding, "We need to recognize that." Warren also presented Bush with the first International Medal of PEACE for his efforts associated with PEPFAR (Ritchie, Orange County Register, 12/1).
In videotaped remarks played at the forum, Obama said, "I salute President Bush for his leadership in crafting a plan for AIDS relief in Africa and backing it up with funding dedicated to saving lives and preventing the spread of the disease," adding, "And my administration will continue this critical work to address the crisis around the world" (Sanner, AP/Yahoo! News, 12/1). In addition, Obama said that because of the work of PEPFAR, "women in Kenya who were widowed by the disease, and once shunned by society, have banded together to support and empower each other. Scientists around the world are discovering and engineering new medicines to give people with HIV/AIDS another chance at life. NGOs and faith-based institutions are marshaling the best of the human spirit to help those affected. And world governments are coming together to address the humanitarian crisis the pandemic has left in its wake" (Rhee, "Political Intelligence," Boston Globe, 12/1). In addition, Obama said that the U.S. "must also recommit ourselves to addressing the AIDS crisis here in the United States with a strong national strategy of education, prevention and treatment, focusing on those communities at greatest risk." He added, "This strategy must be based on the best available science and built on the foundation of a strong health care system." According to Obama, "in the end, this epidemic can't be stopped by government alone, and money alone is not the answer either" (AFP/Google.com, 12/1).
Other political figures who praised Bush's work on HIV/AIDS included former President Clinton, who, in a message that was read to the gathering, said, "I think as time passes, people will look back on this as one of your most remarkable contributions, Mr. President." Irish musician and HIV/AIDS advocate Bono also called Bush "a hero" for his work on the disease (Ward/Dinan, Washington Times, 12/2).
The following highlights broadcast coverage of World AIDS Day.
- ABC's "World News Webcast": The segment includes comments from five ABC digital reporters who discuss HIV/AIDS in India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya and South Korea (Gibson, "World News Tonight," ABC, 12/1). Video of the segment is available online.
- CBS' "Early Show": The segment includes comments from Marvelyn Brown, author of the book "The Naked Truth: Young, Beautiful and HIV-Positive" and several HIV-positive people (Rodriguez, "Early Show," CBS, 12/1). Video of the segment is available online.
- NBC's "Today Show": The segment features musician John Legend, who discusses (RED)WIRE, an online music magazine that donates a portion of subscription fees to HIV/AIDS efforts (Robach/Rocker, "Today Show," NBC, 12/1). Video of the segment is available online.
- NPR's "Talk of the Nation": The segment includes comments from HIV/AIDS researcher Robert Gallo (Conan, "Talk of the Nation," NPR, 12/1). Audio of the segment is available online.
- PRI's "The World": The segment includes comments from Mark Dybul, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator who administers PEPFAR; Craig Usswald, manager of PEPFAR's drug supply system; and Jyoti Schlesinger, former PEPFAR head in Cote d'Ivoire (Baron, "The World," PRI, 12/1). Audio of the segment is available online. A transcript of the segment and expanded coverage are available online.
- PRI's "The World": The segment includes comments from HIV policy expert and epidemiologist Elizabeth Pisani (Mullins, "The World," PRI, 12/1). Audio of the segment is available online.
- WBUR's "Here and Now": The segment includes comments from Negar Akhavi, editor of the book "AIDS Sutra: Untold Stories from India"; and Nalini Jones, an author who wrote an essay for the book (Young, "Here and Now," WBUR, 12/1). Audio of the segment is available online.