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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 31 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 44
SIR ELTON JOHN'S ACCEPTANCE REMARKS
Section One
ALL STORIES
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SIR ELTON JOHN'S ACCEPTANCE REMARKS

Let me echo David by thanking our dear friend and neighbor in Atlanta, the one and only Andrew Young.

And our deep thanks to the Human Rights Campaign for this honor, and for all of the amazing work you do. David and I are genuinely humbled by this recognition.

Most people don't know that we are now at a critical moment in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Right now is the moment that decides whether we will end the HIV/AIDS epidemic once and for all, or whether it will make a devastating comeback.

According to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 30 percent of Gay and Bisexual men have had an HIV test in the past year.

A majority of Gay men don't even talk about HIV with their friends or partners. More than 60 percent don't even talk about HIV with their doctor.

How can this be, when HIV is the number one health issue facing Gay men in America?

How can this be, when one in eight Gay men in America is HIV positive?

How can this be, when new infections have gone up by 12 percent among Gay men in America in recent years?

This is the critical moment in our fight, and so many of us don't seem to care. Even in our own community. Especially in our own community.

Right NOW, the Gay community needs to take a hard look in the mirror and start to address these concerns in our own backyard.

Everyone in this room has fought so hard for Gay rights. But we are hypocrites if we don't fight the stigma around HIV that's rampant in the Gay community.

The discrimination isn't just out there - it's also right here at home.

That's why the Elton John AIDS Foundation has provided a major grant to the Human Rights Campaign to start a new awareness and outreach effort.

With this grant, we challenge the LGBT community to dig in and focus on this crisis.

We must put the same kind of resources and dedication and creativity that we put into the battle for marriage equality and apply it to the fight to end AIDS.

Today, we have to fight stigma in the same way we first took on AIDS 30 years ago - as if our lives depend on it - because they do.

Just like 30 years ago, if we don't lead this fight, no one will.

Because the truth is, it's up to us to end AIDS. It's really up to us.

The only way to succeed in this critical moment is for us to start acting. And if you've acted in the past, I thank you, and I ask that you act again. NOW.

As David mentioned, the scientists have done their part.

We have life-saving treatments for HIV and AIDS.

We even have a new medication, PrEP, to prevent HIV infection.

So much effort and resources and money have been spent to secure these scientific advancements.

Why aren't we embracing these advancements?

We must do this so we can really finish the job.

We have to do our part right NOW.

HIV spreads because people don't get tested, and people don't get tested because of stigma.

HIV spreads because people can't or won't get access to the treatment they need because of the fear of stigma.

Often there is NO treatment available because of the stigma and indifference of people holding office and making policy decisions that clearly say, 'We don't care if you get sick and have no insurance or healthcare. We've got ours - go get your own.'

We have to change the conversation around health and HIV in the Gay community. No one can be a bystander.

We need everyone working together to end this crisis, starting right here in this room.

I know we can do this. We have made so much progress in the past 30 years. We can end AIDS in the next 30 years. I truly believe that.

But it's up to us. HRC has done so much to make marriage equality a reality. I am committing to work with you, and I ask that you work with me to make the end of AIDS a reality.

So I thank you again for this honor - but even more, thank you for doing your part to end this epidemic once and for all.

Thank you.

Courtesy of Human Rights Campaign

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