Elton John spoke out against Russia at the International AIDS Conference today.
The legendary musician was attending the conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands, alongside his friend Prince Harry to launch their MenStar coalition. Their project targets men for help accessing treatment and treatment for HIV, beginning in Kenya.
Speaking to reporters on the conference’s second day, John took aim at Russia and Eastern European governments, blaming their ‘bigotry’ for hindering AIDS research.
‘If there wasn’t this bigotry and hatred, then this disease could be eliminated far quicker than you could ever think,’ the singer 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.’
Elton John: ‘HIV could be cured in my lifetime’
John warned about the rising infection rates amongst young men.
‘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.’
The 71 year-old star vented his frustration at the lack of progress made in finding a cure for the disease.
‘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.’
Elton John’s comments come amid disappointing news from scientists regarding current AIDS research.
Scientists warned that global HIV rates could spiral again due to political ‘apathy’ and lack of funding. It is estimated by UNAIDS that an extra $7 billion in funding is required annually to maintain the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Prince Harry warned: ‘The progress we have fought so hard for is at risk from a dangerous complacency.’
Researcher Sharon Lewin of University of Melbourne said: ‘A cure remains a top scientific priority. What we’ve learnt, I think over the last decade: this is going to be a very difficult scientific challenge.’
There are currently 37 million around the world living with HIV. 1.8 million new HIV diagnoses were made in 2017.
Elton John’s own charity the Elton John AIDS Foundation has raised a reported $400 million for AIDS research since its foundation in 1992.
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