U.S. President George W. Bush reaffirmed on Monday the government's commitment to fight against HIV/AIDS as the world marked the 20th AIDS Day.
Barack Obama, the president-elect who is taking office on Jan. 20, also issued a statement including a national strategy to reduce the disease.
"Today is World AIDS Day, a day we reaffirm our commitment to fight HIV/AIDS at home and abroad," said the president at the White House, where a red ribbon was put as a symbol of resolve to confront the HIV/AIDS.
He highlighted an initiative of his administration, the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which was launched in 2003 as the largest international health initiative dedicated to a single disease, saying that it has help the U.S. reached the goal in September of treating 2 million HIV infected people within five years.
"PEPFAR is bringing hope and healing to people around the world," he said.
When addressing a forum on global health later the day, the president said that PEPFAR was also in the interest of U.S. national security by foiling militants' attempt to use the hopelessness of disease to stir up support for their causes.
"There's nothing more hopeless than to be an orphan, for example, whose parents died of HIV/AIDS, wondering whether or not there's a future for them," he said. "So it's in our national security interest to deal with hopelessness where we can find it."
Obama, in a videotaped message posted on his official website, also pledged to developing and implementing a comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy to reduce HIV infection, increase access to treatment and care and reduce HIV/AIDS-related health disparities.
"My administration will continue this critical work to address the crisis around the world," Obama said. "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."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that about 1.1 million people in the country currently are infected with HIV, and more people are becoming infected each year than previously estimated.