On the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day, President-elect Barack Obama today appeared via video message to the Saddleback Civil Forum on Global Health hosted by Pastor Rick Warren in Washington, D.C.
Obama applauded President Bush's efforts, particularly in Africa, but said more needs to be done.
"On this twentieth anniversary of World AIDS Day, I think itís appropriate to look back for a moment to when this day was first observed," Obama said. "In 1988, when ministers of health from around the world first had the notion to set aside a day to highlight the threat of HIV/AIDS, they faced widespread ignorance and fear. Back then, many refused to even acknowledge the existence of this disease, let alone the devastating impact it was having on families and communities around the world.
"Today, because of the work of people like you, 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. 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. And my administration will continue this critical work to address the crisis around the world.
"But we 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. This strategy must be based on the best available science and built on the foundation of a strong health care system. But in the end this epidemic canít be stopped by government alone, and money alone is not the answer either. All of us must do our part."
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.