ABC News’ Ann Compton reports: The nation’s capital awoke to a surprise at the White House front door. Overnight cranes draped a giant AIDS red ribbon, two stories tall, on the North Portico of the White House. It will remain in place for two days marking World AIDS Day December 1st.
Such a dramatic symbol is a first here, but the Bush administration has long felt it is not getting the credit due for the President’s "PEPFAR" initiative (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) which has spent something approaching $15 billion on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in vulnerable African and Caribbean nations. President Bush has also asked Congress to double that amount up to $30 billion over the next five years.
Along with the humanitarian cause, there is a strategic political motivation for President Bush. AIDS is so rampant in some African countries it could become a political destabilizing force in nations where a significant percentage of adults fall ill and die, weakening an entire generation.