President George W. Bush was awarded the Distinguished Leadership Award Thursday night by the Atlantic Council, a D.C.-based think tank, for his work in combatting the HIV and AIDS crisis in Africa during his presidency. The 43rd president of the United States was honored for his administration's creation of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, which was launched in 2003.
"When we confront suffering, when we save lives, we breathe hope into the devastated populations," Mr. Bush said at the Atlantic Council's awards ceremony.
In accepting the honor, Mr. Bush encouraged D.C. entities to continue the program and said that spending money abroad is "in the national security interest of the United States."
"Every human life is precious," he said, also citing the United State's "moral" obligation to intervene in the AIDS crisis.
His former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recorded a video message to congratulate the former president on the award ahead of his remarks.
"George W. Bush showed what true leadership means and requires: Doing what you think is right even it is not what is popular," she said in the video played at the event.
Mr. Bush accepted the award and thanked Americans for their continuing generosity in fighting the disease.
"Well we've turned the tides against HIV/AIDS, but the gains are still fragile. We cannot stop. we have now reached a stage in the journey where there can be no pause. we must go on," he said, paraphrasing a Winston Churchill speech.