For one night, the campaign against HIV trumped the buzz over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (search) re-election bid, speculation over whether Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (search) will run for president, even gossip about actress Angelina Jolie's (search) relationship with Brad Pitt.
The women were all speakers at a dinner of the Global Business Coalition on HIV-AIDS (search), helping raise $1.3 million.
Volkswagen of South Africa, Getty Images, MAC Cosmetics, Bristol-Myers-Squibb, Virgin United and DeBeers were honored for their work against AIDS.
While the women went out of their way to praise each other, Clinton drew loud applause when she called on the Bush administration and Congress to recognize the importance of condoms in the fight against AIDS.
"There is a great deal of political pressure to only talk about abstinence, and to deny support for condoms and education on using them," Clinton said. "This policy will lead to the unnecessary deaths of many people."
She said girls and women were increasingly at risk, especially in the countries most affected.
Earlier, Rice told the crowd at the Kennedy Center that the involvement of businesses along with government is crucial in fighting AIDS, which she said can threaten the stability of countries and entire regions.
She praised the bipartisan cooperation in Congress in support of funding AIDS prevention and singled out Clinton's work, telling the New York senator, "It's a pleasure to share the podium with you."
Jolie called on countries to commit more to the fight against AIDS and said the failure to properly treat the disease internationally "is a disgrace."
Clinton got one of the big laughs of the evening when she pondered the life of a glamorous movie star.
"It's hard being a beautiful celebrity," Clinton said. "I wouldn't know, but I've got to imagine it has to be very difficult."