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Bush to make rare appearance in DC marking 20th anniversary of AIDS program

Former President George W. Bush is set to return to Washington, D.C. later this month in a rare appearance to mark the 20th anniversary of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Bush will be joined by his former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the former president of Tanzania Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete on Feb. 24 at an event hosted by the George W. Bush Institute commemorating PEPFAR, a program that the State Department says has saved 25 million lives in fighting AIDS worldwide.

The trio will discuss how PEPFAR was established and how it has impacted the world, according to Bush’s press release.

Bush established the PEPFAR program in 2003 to help prevent the spread of HIV — which can turn into AIDS if not treated properly – and to care for those infected with the disease in other countries. The program now operates in 50 different countries has provided nearly 65 million people with HIV testing services, as well as treated more than 20 million people, according to the State Department.

Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Bill Gates will also be in attendance, along with with David Kramer, who is the executive director of the Bush Institute, to discuss the “success” of PEPFAR’s program model.

“PEPFAR is arguably the most successful U.S. foreign assistance program ever, having saved more than 25 million lives to date,” Kramer said in a statement. “PEPFAR has also strengthened health systems, emboldened democracies, supported economic growth, and advanced progress on human rights. Congress and the American people should continue to support PEPFAR until AIDS is no longer a threat.”

Former First Lady Laura Bush will also introduce two ambassadors from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation during the event. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will also deliver remarks virtually about this milestone, according to the release.

President Joe Biden during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address praised Bush for the PEPFAR program, saying that he believes the United States can follow Bush’s model with its treatment of cancer also.

“Twenty years ago, under the leadership of President Bush and countless advocates and champions, he undertook a bipartisan effort through PEPFAR to transform the global fight against HIV/AIDS.  It’s been a huge success,” he said. “He thought big.  He thought large.  He moved!”

“I believe we can do the same thing with cancer.  Let’s end cancer as we know it and cure some cancers once and for all,” he continued.

Source: The Hill

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