We are currently trialling our new-look independent.co.uk website - please send any feedback to beta@independent.co.uk


Elton John and Ai Weiwei join forces to launch Valentine's Day Aids campaign


Sir Elton John and the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will today join forces to support a Valentine's Day campaign to raise awareness of Aids.

Sir Elton has persuaded stars including Jessie J, Jamie Oliver and Elizabeth Hurley to take part by pricking their finger to draw a spot of blood and then tweet an image of it accompanied by the words, Love Is In My Blood.

The campaign also includes a film by Weiwei. The dissident artist, who filled the Tate Modern’s turbine hall with porcelain sunflower seeds in 2010, said: “When Elton asked me to create something for the foundation, I wanted to contribute by finding an expression that raises awareness for this crisis among as many people as possible."

Sir Elton infuriated the Chinese authorities when he dedicated a performance in Beijing last November to the outspoken Weiwei.

Local police questioned the singer after he met the artist and announced that the performance was dedicated “to the spirit and talent of Ai Weiwei”.

Two versions of his film, one lasting 30 seconds and one lasting a minute, will run on YouTube and on big screens in Times Square, Piccadilly Circus and Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, today.

Sir Elton said: “Now more than ever we know how to beat Aids. Thanks to incredible work by the Aids community over the past 20 years we now have affordable, quality treatment which saves lives and dramatically reduces the chances of passing on HIV. But these medicines don't work against prejudice and discrimination.

“It’s time to stop treating people who are most vulnerable to HIV as outcasts. Everyone deserves the chance to protect themselves. Surely we have enough love for that."

Sir Elton’s civil partner David Furnish, who chairs his AIDS Foundation, said: “Of course we want people to protect themselves and everything we fund promotes safe sex, clean disposable needles and condom use.

“The idea of this campaign is not to get everyone pricking their fingers, but to get the world’s attention; to challenge the equation that HIV + blood only equals fear and isolation.

What pumps through our veins is also the love and compassion to keep one another safe and look after people when they need it. The only question is whether we are ready to show it.”

Sir Elton’s AIDS Foundation, established in 1992, has raised more than $275 million in support of projects in 55 countries. Sir Elton announced that Emeli Sandé will be the star performer at the Foundation’s annual post-Oscars party next weekend, an event which has raised $34 million over two decades.

Sir Elton’s endorsement of Sandé will give the Scottish singer a boost as she aims to repeat her chart-topping UK success in the United States. “I predict that by next year she will be a multi-Grammy Award winner,” Sir Elton said. “I can’t wait to introduce Emeli to my guests and experience her live performance together.”

Gordon Ramsay will design the menu for the star-studded event, held in West Hollywood Park.

Last month Sir Elton and Mr Furnish confirmed the birth of a second baby son, Elijah, who was born in Las Vegas via an unnamed California surrogate mother.

Click below to see the short film by Ai Weiwei