Former President George W. Bush himself presented Bono with the George W. Bush medal for Distinguished Leadership on April 19 for his recognized efforts to help combat HIV and AIDS. For decades, Bono has been vocally adamant about putting forth the effort to ensure that the United States does its part in controlling the worldwide epidemic.
A candid video was recently released showing Bono accepting the award during a sit-down panel in celebration of the fifth anniversary of The Bush Center in Dallas, Texas. World humanitarian causes are a big part of Bono’s ongoing philanthropy, which includes battling HIV and AIDS.
Bono talked about the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and understands how critical it is for the continued safety of the world.
"It's a huge honor to [win] this award, and I'm here to honor your leadership on the greatest health intervention in the history of medicine," the singer-songwriter responded. "That's what I'm not sure people understand: 13 million from PEPFAR, and if you add the Global Relief Fund, it's probably been 21 million lives have been saved by this work that you began and led and I'm here to honor that." It’s certainly sobering to estimate just how many lives may have been gained or extended through these efforts.
Bush responded by reserving some of the credit for Bono. "The truth of the matter is, [PEPFAR] never would have made it out of Congress had you not been engaged,” Bush admitted. “The first time I met you, you knew more statistics, like you were coming right out of the CIA." Bono wouldn’t let Bush or others shy away from the horrifying statistics of the spread of HIV in third world countries.
It’s really quite astonishing how involved in politics Bono has become over the years. During the George W. Bush administration, Bono met with then-National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice to promote funding for AIDS. He also met with then-Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill to discuss similar matters.
In the video, Bono joked that he might get fired from U2 because he left the rest of his bandmates in Montreal, Canada as they rehearsed for another tour in order to receive the award.
On March 14, 2002, Bono reportedly met with then-President George W. Bush to discuss HIV and AIDS. Bono seized the opportunity to try and persuade Bush to do more in providing HIV and AIDS resources to poorer parts of the world. According to The Dallas Morning News, Bono said that Barbara Bush is the person responsible for finally making HIV and AIDS a priority for George W. Bush. But also Bono played a part in making HIV and AIDS a priority for U.S. presidents.
Bono also implied that President Donald Trump isn’t doing enough. "Tackling a virus like this, if you're not as fast or faster than the virus, it's outrunning you," he explained. "So all the progress that we made over the years can be undone," referring to the dismantling of federal HIV programs. Bono also expressed his disapproval of President Trump’s policies on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Bono’s efforts in using the power of his pedestal to bring attention to important HIV and AIDS matters is finally being recognized, nearly two decades after becoming more involved.