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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 1, 2006
President Discusses World AIDS Day
10:41 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Laura and I welcome our guests -- this is World AIDS Day. It's a day for the world to recognize the fact that there are 39 million people living with HIV/AIDS, and a day to remember the fact that 25 million people have died of AIDS. It's a day, as well, for the United States to remember that we have a duty to do something about this epidemic, this pandemic.
And today Laura and I met with the Secretary of HHS, as well as Mark Dybul, our U.S. coordinator for our AIDS effort, and people who are involved with helping to save lives, people from our country and people from around the world who have come to share with us the stories of compassion and courage.
This country is committed -- we're committed in helping solve this problem by dedicating a lot of resources to the battle against HIV/AIDS. The American taxpayers have funded over $15 billion to help groups around this table save lives. Before the PEPFAR program -- that's the name of the program that we -- that's what we call the program that we dedicate money to, to help save lives -- before it became into being, there was about 50,000 people receiving lifesaving drugs. Today there are over 800,000 people receiving lifesaving drugs, and we thank those who are on the ground in the countries around the world who are using taxpayers' money to save lives. We believe that it's one thing to spend money, we also believe it's another thing to say that we expect there to be results. And the American people need to know we're getting good results with your money, and we'll continue to spend it wisely.
We also -- as we think about people affected with HIV/AIDS in countries around the world, we remember those who have got HIV/AIDS here at home. And it's very important for the American people to understand we're spending over $18 billion to help save lives here at home. And I call upon the Congress to reauthorize the Ryan White Act. The bill has passed the United States House of Representatives; the Senate has time to act before it goes on recess. It is an important piece of legislation that will enable us to continue our fight against HIV/AIDS domestically.
I can't thank you all enough for coming, and I thank you for being such decent, compassionate people. The pandemic of HIV/AIDS can be defeated, and the United States is willing to take the lead in that fight. But we can't do it alone, and so for our international partners, we appreciate what you do. For the faith-based community, we thank you for hearing the universal call to love a neighbor. And for the taxpayers, we appreciate your generosity in showing the world the good heart and compassion of the American people.
END 10:44 A.M. EST