Mega-church Pastor Rick Warren held a special forum to honor President Bush on World AIDS Day Monday, for his work in tackling the epidemic in Africa.
The President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) initiative has provided billions of dollars to fight the deadly disease since 2003. Bush said Monday that PEPFAR has already met treatment goal for sub-Saharan Africa.
"I'm pleased to announce that we have exceeded that goal early," Bush said at the forum. "The American people through PEPFAR are supporting lifesaving treatment for more than 2 million people around the world."
Warren asked the outgoing President about his idea to include faith based groups in the initiative.
"I say especially faith based, not including faith based," Bush said. "I believe when people join an organization to love your neighbor, that is a powerful recruiting tool and incentive."
President-elect Obama also congratulated Bush on his work in Africa, and promised to continue the President's efforts when he is in office.
"I salute President Bush for his leadership in crafting a plan for AIDS relief in Africa and backing it up with funding dedicated to saving lives and preventing the spread of the disease," Obama said in a videotaped message. "And my administration will continue this critical work to address the crisis around the world."
Pastor Warren presented the President with an International Medal of Peace on behalf of the Peace Coalition, which includes 400,000 churches.
Bush says more than 237,000 babies have been born HIV free because of Americans' support.
This World AIDS Day marked the 20th anniversary of the day campaigns and individuals come together to spread AIDS awareness.
Source: CBN News, The Associated Press
*Original broadcast December 1, 2008.