Philadelphia President Bush sought Wednesday to portray himself as a compassionate global leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS, but critics said his strategy suffered from the go-it-alone approach that marks his war against terrorism.
"We are fighting one of the great tragedies of human history," Bush told a packed community hall at People for People, a ministry of the Greater Exodus Baptist Church. "This isn't a minor tragedy. It's just not a blip in history. It is a great tragedy. That's how I view it."
Bush stressed his commitment to fighting the epidemic, which killed 3 million people last year, orphaned 14 million children and afflicts 40 million people worldwide.
To the surprise of some, Bush gave a notable nod Wednesday by invoking the use of condoms in combating AIDS, as he mentioned his administration's "ABC" approach to prevention.
"That stands for: Abstain, be faithful in marriage, and, when appropriate, use condoms," Bush said. But he left no doubt that encouraging people to abstain from sex outside of marriage would remain primary to his policy for fighting the disease.
AIDS activists, who are staging worldwide protests against the Bush policy today, said his administration had shortchanged a global AIDS fund while directing limited funding to faith-based organizations.