Sir Elton John and David Furnish, the Founder and Chairman, respectively, of the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), were in Washington, DC, Friday for a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry. Discussions with Secretary Kerry centered on EJAF’s new collaborative arrangement with the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to conduct a national program in South Africa focused on men who have sex with men (MSM).
“The incidence of HIV among MSM is greater than the general population in all regions across the world, including South Africa, the nation hardest hit by HIV,” said Furnish. “This disparity is primarily due to the stigma and discrimination faced by MSM, which discourages and excludes them from the HIV services, if any, available to the population at large.”
EJAF’s envisions its collaboration with PEPFAR in South Africa as a prelude to additional collaborations in other countries, such as Nigeria and Ethiopia.
“At the Elton John AIDS Foundation, we are convinced that specialized MSM programs should be a part of every national strategic plan to combat HIV,” said John. “This belief and vision is what led us to design Health4Men, the first program of its kind in the world. With an initial commitment of $7 million from EJAF and PEPFAR, Health4Men will leverage support from the Global Fund and the South African Department of Health to provide a set of targeted interventions for MSM. These interventions will be aimed at preventing new HIV infections and treating existing infections, thereby leading to a reduction in the number of HIV-related deaths among MSM.”
On Saturday, October 25, John and Furnish received the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)’s National Equality Award at the 18th annual HRC National Dinner. At the dinner, John announced a$300,000 grant from EJAF to HRC for a national program to increase awareness of HIV prevention, treatment and care among LGBT people—with a specific focus on young gay and bisexual men and transgender women.
“We are truly grateful for the leadership of the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the opportunity we now have to greatly expand our efforts around HIV/AIDS education and advocacy,” said Jeff Krehely, HRC’s Vice President & Chief Foundation Officer. “The grant will make a profound difference to the lives of countless people, especially the members of our community who are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS and the stigma surrounding the disease.”
John also recently wrote a New York Times op/ed called “Don’t Forget About AIDS” on October 27, 2014. He wrote: “We need the same coalition that brought about marriage equality — from gay activists, human rights champions and social justice advocates to legal experts and courageous policy makers — to address the spiraling AIDS crisis again.”
Source: Elton John AIDS Foundation