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U.S. Bipartisanship Fundamental To Continued Progress Against HIV/AIDS

“Health care, taxes, energy, favorite flavor of ice cream — it seems our elected leaders must disagree at every turn. But one issue that has so far repulsed the partisan pressures of the times was highlighted [at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012)] in our nation’s capital last week: the fight against HIV/AIDS,” former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) writes in an opinion piece in “The Week.” He says, “The conference was a celebration of the remarkable success made because of this leadership, and a call for continued support” in the response against HIV/AIDS. Noting he moderated a panel discussion with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) on congressional bipartisanship at the conference, Frist continues, “I witnessed what I felt to be an accurate portrayal of how we got to the point where we could celebrate so many successes. Fundamental to the progress has been bipartisanship.”

Frist details some of the successes of PEPFAR, which was proposed by former President George W. Bush and passed in 2003 with strong bipartisan support, and writes that “all this was accomplished because Americans came together, Republican and Democrat, working hand in hand in a bipartisan and meaningful way, rallying together to fashion solutions that are changing the course of history.” Although “[o]ur past investment has inspired others to contribute, saved lives at home and around the world, and empowered economic development with a healthier workforce … the AIDS epidemic is far from over,” he writes, continuing, “[T]he risk today in a more highly charged partisan environment and in more fiscally challenging times is to say we have done our job and it’s time to move on.” Frist concludes, “As Sen. Rubio declared [during the panel discussion], ‘the closer we get to the finish line is not the time to ease up, it’s the time to run through the tape.’ Let’s continue to put our partisan differences aside and run this one together” (7/31).