Sir Elton leads calls for US Congress to keep funding war on Aids - Americas - World - The Independent

Sir Elton leads calls for US Congress to keep funding war on Aids

 

Washington DC

Leading activists from around the world, including Sir Elton John and Annie Lennox, took to the marbled corridors of Capitol Hill yesterday on a mission to urge senior members of Congress to keep US dollars flowing to the global effort to combat and eventually end the HIV-Aids pandemic.

"I beg the Senate to maintain its funding," Sir Elton told guests, including senators and representatives from both political parties, at a private breakfast where he and other speakers employed oratory charm and some old-fashioned flattery to convince those holding American purse strings that the battle is not over. "You are the country that everyone looks to," Sir Elton said. "Do not take your foot off the accelerator, finish this job."

At the International Aids Conference which began here on Sunday, alarm bells are sounding over America's ability to continue funding treatment and research programmes at the same rate. For now, the US remains by far the biggest contributor. Currently it funds treatment for about 4.5 million people, about half of all those receiving life-saving drugs in low-income countries, largely through the President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), launched by George W Bush.

Reaffirming Washington's commitment to forging the first Aids-free generation since the disease first showed itself 30 years ago, Hillary Clinton announced new US assistance worth $150m. Against that, however, President Barack Obama proposed a 2013 federal budget that would strip half a billion dollars from Pepfar –equivalent to a 13 per cent cut.

There was some giddiness over the scrambled eggs in the Kennedy Caucus Room in the US Senate complex over progress that has been made in the past decade – namely getting people into treatment and slowing the spread of HIV. "Look at how far we have come," Sir Elton, departing from a prepared speech, averred.

"The feeling in this room today… is like the great feeling of the sixties," he said. "It's so apparent there is such love in this room. There is no marijuana! Well I hope not, but if so, pass it around. But no, there's no need for anything like that. What we have here is the human spirit… the power of people working together for good is an unstoppable good."

Sir Elton got the laughs. But the room, with its decorative, gold-leaf ceiling and glistening chandeliers, fell silent as Florence Ngobeni-Allen, an advocate for ending mother-to-baby transmission of the disease from South Africa, described losing an infant to Aids because she is HIV-positive, and then years later delivering two more children who are both negative. The eldest, a son, will turn six today.

As Ms Ngobeni-Allen began to weep, many of those listening joined her.

"I cannot share with you in this room how beautiful it is to wake up in the morning and hear my kids running around and playing, healthy," she told the room.

"Your programmes have saved so many lives. I am not crying – I am just happy." She ended: "I would love to hug you, but I know the protocol."

In a bright spot for the conference yesterday, a new report found that more teenagers in the US are using condoms as protection during sex. About 60 per cent of sexually active high school students used a condom the last time they had sex, researchers with the Centres for Disease Control told delegates. That compares with 46 per cent back in 1991.

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week