Historic signing at White House brings leaders together

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Historic signing at White House brings leaders together

01 August 2008

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President George W. Bush is joined by Annette Lantos, right, and invited guests Wednesday, July 30, 2008 in the East Room of the White House, as he signs H.R. 5501, the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008. White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian.

On 30 July 2008, US President George W. Bush signed the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008. This legislation replaces and extends the existing act by five years and also expands it three-fold to US$ 48 billion.

A number of guests joined President Bush in the White House for this historic event. They included senior members of the US House and the US Senate and Congressional and agency staff as well as family members of the politicians Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde in whose memory the act honours.

President Bush expressed his appreciation to Dr Peter Piot, UNAIDS Executive Director for attending and thanked him and Rajat Gupta, the Chairman of the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for their presence.

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(left to right) Dr Peter Piot, UNAIDS Executive Director and Michele Moloney-Kitts, Assistant U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator at the White House on the day U.S. President George W. Bush signed the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008, 30 July 2008

Dr Peter Piot paid tribute to the leadership of the President and the US Congress: “The generosity of the US government has helped to truly transform the global response to AIDS and the course of the epidemic. It has enabled all of us to make a qualitative and quantum leap forward.”

President Bush acknowledged that AIDS is a long-term crisis that will require serious commitment and resources for decades: “Defeating HIV/AIDS once and for all will require an unprecedented investment over generations. But it is an investment that yields the best possible return: saved lives.”

President Bush first announced the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in a State of the Union address in 2003 and a US$ 15 billion act was passed by US Congress that same year.

Joining the President on the occasion of the signing of the reauthorization, were two people directly benefiting from PEPFAR. Agnes Nyamayarwo, from Uganda, who now travels extensively educating people about HIV and Mohamad Kalyesubula, who works in a clinic caring for HIV positive people.

Latest figures show that after decades of increasing mortality, the annual number of AIDS deaths globally has declined in the past two years, in part as a result of greater access to HIV treatment.