"We have to stop making excuses," Dixon said. "AIDS has affected each and every one of our lives in Baltimore, whether it's as a mother, father, sister or brother, or business owner or member of the clergy."
Candidates for president have also weighed in on the crisis in advance of World AIDS Day, with Democrats criticizing the Bush plan, which, as adopted by Congress, requires that a third of money spent on disease prevention go to abstinence programs.
In proposing a $50 billion AIDS program this week, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York said she "rejects the Bush administration approach of investing exclusively in abstinence-only sex education."
But there were few Bush critics yesterday in Mount Airy, a historic town in Republican-dominated Carroll County. Scores of local residents shivered in the brisk morning air, lining South Main Street in hopes of getting a glimpse of the president. Many carried small American flags, and one man held a sign that read, "God bless u Mr. Bush."
Wrapped in coats and blankets against the cold, Jolene Frenze and Wendy Pinto cleared their schedules for the event. A large tote filled with magazines and water sat between their lawn chairs near the church.
"I feel like I'm going to the parade," Pinto said.
Added Frenze: "It's on my life list, to see a president."
Sun reporter Jonathan Bor contributed to this article.