Amid the gridlock and bitter partisanship of Washington, there has been at least one great bipartisan success. Congress has carried on President George W. Bushs effort to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa and its paying off in a major reduction in the rate of infection and death.
Much of the progress flows from work by Dr. Myron Cohen of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He led research that proved that early treatments for HIV can block the spread of the virus.
Now this united effort must continue not only against HIV/AIDS, but two other deadly pandemics that are being brought under control, tuberculosis and malaria. In December, leaders from around the world will meet in Washington to decide whether this work can go on on three fronts. They are seeking to raise $15 billion for the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The United States has contributed to the next chapter by agreeing to host the conference. Now it must continue to lead. Historically, every $1 the United States gives to the Global Fund has been matched by $2 from other donor nations. Fund organizers hope the United states will commit to giving $5 billion over the next three years. Both House and Senate spending plans already include $1.6 billion for the fund in 2014. Now the key is to commit to that level through 2016.
North Carolinas U.S. senators, Kay Hagan, a Democrat, and Richard Burr, a Republican, have joined in supporting this effort. Both senators visited Africa to see the results. The progress is impressive. A decade ago, only about 50,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa were on drugs to treat HIV/AIDS. Last year, over 7.5 million people were on treatment. There has been a 40 percent drop in TB deaths and a 33 percent drop in deaths from malaria.
This a good story of bipartisanship and cooperation. It is a story that must continue.