In commemoration of World AIDS Day, this year marking the 30th anniversary of the identification of the first cases of the disease, singer and activist Bono sat down with TIME’s managing editor, Rick Stengel, to talk about the global fight against HIV/AIDS.
Mostly, what Bono brought was good news and good stories. He announces in this week’s issue of TIME (available to subscribers here) that the Obama administration may be poised to make a big commitment to funding that could at last help curb the march of the AIDS pandemic. “We can only be hopeful, but I have a funny feeling he’s not coming to our [World AIDS Day] event empty-handed. And what we’ve asked for is a commitment to move the 4 million people who are treated today by the United States for AIDS on PEPFAR to get to 6 million by 2013,” Bono says. “We think the President is going to commit to that, and if he does I will punch the air because it literally is the beginning of the end of AIDS.”
Watch a slideshow and listen to Bono and Stengel’s talk below:
“This is the moment where victory is within our grasp,” says Bono. “For some people, this is a really emotional moment, for people who have been at it longer than I have: the people in ACT UP, the people at amfAR, people in the gay community. You know, there’s somebody who’s coming to the event … [who] lost four roommates. His four roommates died in the United States in the ’80s at the beginning of this.”
Bono spoke glowingly about the United States’ leadership in the fight against AIDS, calling this country’s efforts the “greatest heroic act since America jumped into the Second World War.” It is an “extraordinary thing that the United States has done, which is in the war against this tiny little virus, which has caused so much destruction and heartache, American leadership has been the turning point,” Bono says, mustering all the Irish charm that propelled U2 through decades of rock stardom. “Five million lives have been saved around the world because of American leadership.”
Bono isn’t just getting commitment from the governments either. In support of World AIDS Day, all Apple stores will be going red in recognition of Bono’s Product RED campaign, which he says raises between $180 million and $200 million a year — “more than Switzerland and Portugal combined” contribute to the fight against AIDS.
Click the play button, below, to hear Bono’s full Q&A with Stengel.