On World AIDS Day, We Look to the Future

As chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, we've seen firsthand the enormous toll of HIV/AIDS on families, communities and economies. We have traveled throughout Africa and visited those impacted by this terrible disease, and we have witnessed the results of U.S. assistance, which has saved millions of lives throughout the world. On December 1st, we marked World AIDS Day by honoring the lives lost to the scourge of AIDS and by recommitting ourselves to building an AIDS-free generation and ending this pandemic once and for all.

Although we come from different political parties, we stand together in our belief that the United States should remain a global leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

For decades, this has remained a bipartisan issue. The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a remarkable program that is supporting life-saving antiretroviral treatment for 5.1 million people around the world, was launched by President Bush a decade ago and continued by President Obama, has strong support in Congress from both sides of the aisle.

Progress made over the last 10 years means that the United States is ready to look forward, and shift from an emergency response to a sustainable response to the HIV/AIDS crisis. This means working closely with partner countries to ensure their AIDS response is effective, efficient and durable. Perhaps most importantly, it means transitioning to country-ownership of PEPFAR programs -- as some countries have already done -- so governments in Africa and worldwide can effectively implement and sustain life-saving programs themselves.

One of the best ways to move forward is to take stock of the lessons learned. Secretary of State Clinton's PEPFAR Blueprint, which was released on November 29th, offers leaders in Congress and the next Secretary of State the benefit of 10 years of lessons and best practices from PEPFAR programs.

Scientific advances and their successful implementation -- as well as the leadership of the United States -- have brought us to the brink of an AIDS-free generation. The last 10 years have seen tremendous progress and millions of lives saved -- and we can't stop fighting now.

Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs and a member of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) is the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs