Elton John, Credit: David Shankbone / Flickr
Singer and performer Elton John said on Tuesday that stigma against people with HIV/AIDS is hindering research that could cure the disease.
The musician made the comments while attending the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands with Britain’s Prince Harry, where they launched the MenStar coalition, which is aimed at helping men in Kenya access treatment for HIV.
John told journalists that negative attitudes towards treatment of LGBTQ people and people with HIV/AIDS has caused research to be hampered.
“If there wasn’t this bigotry and hatred, then this disease could be eliminated far quicker than you could ever think,” John said. “Basically what it comes down to is that these countries are discriminating very badly against LGBT people. And it’s holding us back, and until we can get that…idea out of our heads that gay people are lesser, then I’m afraid we will still be sitting here in 20 years discussing the same thing.”
John said that governments need to work harder to promote and fund research into cures.
“Young people are the only age group where HIV infections are rising, not falling,” he said. “We have to do much, much more to bring men, especially younger men, more fully into the fold.”
John added: “This is the first disease which could be cured in my lifetime. Politicians need to step up to the plate. They can end this disease so quickly…please, please think of human beings as being equal. As being one race of people, and not dividing them up into sub-texts.”
John’s partner in MenStar, Prince Harry, also lamented that “the progress we have fought so hard for is at risk from a dangerous complacency.”
In D.C., rates of new HIV diagnoses remained fairly flat between 2017 and 2018, except for young people, men who have sex with men, and Latinos, who all saw rates increase.
However, at least for men who have sex with men, while the number of new infections increased compared with 2016, that number is still significantly below the number of new infections in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
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