Hello everyone. Thank you for allowing me to send my greetings and to share a few words with you on this special day. It's my privilege to thank Pastor Rick, Kay, and all of you for your leadership in the struggle against HIV/AIDS, and your steadfast commitment to eradicating this disease.
On this twentieth anniversary of World AIDS Day, I think it's appropriate to look back for a moment to when this day was first observed. 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 can't be stopped by government alone, and money alone is not the answer, either. All of us must do our part.
This year's slogan, "Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise" is a timely one. In the Apostle Paul's letter to the Corinthians, he asked "if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?" We as leaders must continue to sound that call and encourage others to see themselves as leaders in this fight. And we must reaffirm our own commitment to confront and defeat this disease once and for all.
Thank you for your extraordinary work that you do each and every day. I am humbled by your devotion to this cause and look forward to working with you and new partners in this effort in the years ahead. God bless you all.