Elton John tells US Senate: Change the course of history of AIDS

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Sir Elton John told a US Senate panel that AIDS could be eradicated in his lifetime – but only if the US government continues to fund research and treatment.

The British pop singer and AIDS activist testified in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee and discussed his AIDS foundation’s efforts, while pushing Congress to continue funding toward combating AIDS until the disease is completely wiped out.

“The AIDS epidemic is not over and America’s continued leadership is critical,” he said.

“There is a window of opportunity before us, a window through which we can very clearly see the end of AIDS within my lifetime.

“We cannot afford to let the window close if our efforts flag.”

“Drug resistance will surface, transmission rates will rise and this disease which knows no boundaries will once again become a ruthless pandemic with disastrous and far-reaching consequences. This is the most powerful legislative body in the world and this Congress indeed has the power to end Aids.”

Sir Elton, who was joined at the hearing by husband David Furnish, heaped praise on former President George W. Bush and current president Barrack Obama, for their continued efforts to fight the epidemic.

“Compassionate leaders from both sides of the aisle said to the international community that America can, and America will, lead the global fight against AIDS,” he said.

“Because of this Congress, the course of the AIDS epidemic was altered for all of humanity.”

However, Sir Elton – who was recently named Britain’s most generous celebrity – also warned of ‘draconian laws’ in some countries in Africa, stating that gay men with HIV are forced to hide, meaning “the disease is spread even further”.

“The worst fear is stigma, to be honest with you.

“But getting people to feel unashamed… because they may have a sexual orientation that the leader of the government may not approve of, is incredibly important,” he said.

The subject of the Senate committee’s hearing was the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief, also known as Pepfar.

The programme was launched by President George Bush in 2003, and has been strengthened by his successor Barack Obama.

For fiscal year 2016, $6.542bn (£4.28bn) has been requested for the programme.

It was recently reported that a new way of administering drugs to treat HIV could “revolutionise” the way those living with the virus receive treatment.

Watch Sir Elton’s full opening speech below.