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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 31 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 44
Sir Elton John challenges LGBT community to refocus on AIDS
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Sir Elton John challenges LGBT community to refocus on AIDS

On Saturday, October 25, at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) annual gala in Washington, D.C. - arguably the largest LGBT gala of the year with over 3,000 guests in attendance and featuring a keynote speech from President Bill Clinton - Sir Elton John and his longtime partner David Furnish were honored with the HRC's National Equality Award for their work as international AIDS activists and philanthropists through the Elton John AIDS Foundation, a global nonprofit organization working tirelessly to combat stigma, prevent infections, provide treatment and services, and motivate governments to end AIDS. In his acceptance speech Sir Elton John issued a major challenge to the LGBT movement: we're winning marriage, but with HIV infection rates spiking (as high as in the 1980s in some communities) we need to refocus on AIDS. His speech (a transcript of which follows this article) is a bold call to the community.

Also on Saturday, the Elton John AIDS Foundation announced a $300,000 grant to the HRC to do exactly that: engage in the fight against HIV in the most at-risk communities, including the American South, African-American communities, people recently released from prison, and other marginalized communities.

The statistics in those communities are grim: if a Gay black man in Atlanta becomes sexually active at 18, he has a 60 percent chance of becoming HIV-positive by age 30. Meanwhile, the American South has a third of the country's population, but half of new AIDS cases.

At the Elton John AIDS Foundation gala in New York City on October 28, Elton and David Furnish will be backing that challenge up by announcing over a million dollars in new grants to help fight AIDS. Elton is also taking his call to the nation's leaders: on Friday, he met with Secretary of State John Kerry on PEPFAR.

As the LGBT community looks for its next fight, Elton is effectively saying: let's go back and win the fight we didn't finish.

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Sir Elton John challenges LGBT community to refocus on AIDS
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