By Jane Coaston
Elton John has been a musical superstar for over forty years. He’s sold over 250 million albums, won countless awards, and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and knighted as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
He’s also been a longtime champion for people living with HIV/AIDS.
His foundation, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, has raised nearly $300 million to fight HIV/AIDS and combat stigma and discrimination since 1992. And starting this Sunday, he will be taking part in the International AIDS Conference (IAC) in Washington, D.C.
Earlier this week, Elton released his autobiography, Love Is The Cure. In the book, he details his career, and talks candidly about his experiences with HIV/AIDS and the need to end the epidemic.
He also talks about his friendships, with important HIV/AIDS advocates, like Ryan White and Elizabeth Glaser.
Elton John’s interest in working with people living with HIV began with his friendship with Ryan. After contracting HIV through a blood transfusion, Ryan was expelled from his Kokomo, Indiana middle school. He became a powerful spokesman for people living with HIV, and Elton John formed a friendship with him that lasted until Ryan’s death in 1990.
In his book, Elton writes, “In living the way he did, and in dying the way he did, Ryan changed the world. And he changed my world.”
“… Elizabeth decided to take matters into her own hands,” he writes. “She started a pediatric AIDS foundation to raise the money herself. Elizabeth was soon directing millions of dollars from her foundation to critical research that would have a tremendous impact.”
Elton talks about how Elizabeth’s battle was shaped by the lack of resources available to children living with HIV, writing that at the time, “pediatric AIDS had barely registered on the radar of the medical community, pharmaceutical companies, and policy makers.”
He talks about Elizabeth’s successes in lobbying for funds for pediatric AIDS research, and the power of her memory and legacy.
“… Her impact and legacy live on through the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, which, over the years, has had a profound global impact. Today, the foundation carries on with the help of Elizabeth’s son, Jake, now a young man who leads a vibrant, healthy life. Indeed, her work helped save his life.”
On Monday, July 23, Elton John will give a keynote address at the AIDS 2012 conference, “Can Public-Private Partnerships Help Those who Think Globally, Act Locally?”
We’re excited to also have a significant presence at IAC, and working with Elton John and his foundation to help bring an end to HIV/AIDS.
We’ll give Elton the final word:
“Elizabeth’s story shows us the way forward. It also begs the question, if we can end AIDS for children in America, why can’t we end AIDS for everyone, everywhere? The answer is that we can end AIDS. We simply haven’t. Not yet.”