WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, are returning to Washington next month to be recognized for their work on combatting HIV/AIDS worldwide.
The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition announced Thursday that it will honor Bush and the former first lady on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, during its annual Tribute Celebration.
The Bushes will receive the Global Leadership Award for establishing the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, in 2003. Bush announced the program in his State of the Union address in January 2003. He signed legislation to establish it in May 2003.
Liz Schrayer, the coalition’s president and CEO, called the AIDS relief program “one of the most significant achievements in global health in our lifetime.” In a statement, she also praised the Bushes for “transformational leadership” in launching it nearly 20 years ago.
PEPFAR is the largest commitment by any nation in history to address a single disease.
Since the program’s inception, the U.S. government has spent nearly $100 billion to respond to HIV/AIDS worldwide, saving 21 million lives, preventing millions of infections and making strides to control the HIV/AIDS pandemic in more than 50 countries, mostly in Africa and the Caribbean, according to the State Department.
The Bushes were most recently in Washington in September. Laura Bush was a guest of President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden at a White House music event on the South Lawn featuring Elton John, a longtime advocate for people with HIV/AIDS.
The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition is a network of 500 businesses and nongovernmental organizations, national security and foreign policy experts, and business, religious, academic, military and community leaders from across the United States who support investing in development and diplomacy alongside defense.