The legendary musician, who is backing our efforts to raise money to provide HIV testing and treatment for those who need it most across the globe, wrote to media outlets urging them to help raise awareness.
Coinciding with World Aids Day on 1 December, Sir Elton’s appeal called for readers to “know their status” in order to help those who need it receive “dignified help and support”.
His plea appeared in the Daily Nation of Nairobi, the Delhi-based Times of India, Facts newspaper, printed in Kiev, Jornal Noticias in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique and the Saturday Nation in Nairobi.
“As I write, 37 million people around the world are living with HIV. Last year alone, 1.8 million people newly contracted the disease and 940,000 died of Aids. This need not happen,” Sir Elton said.
“Today’s medicines not only enable those living with HIV to have full and fulfilling lives, but also ensure they cannot pass the virus on to others.
“The challenge is that too many people still do not realise they are at risk, are too afraid of the stigma or are denied the chance of taking an HIV test.
“That is why we are raising awareness in cities around the world to combat the shame associated with HIV to promote safe, affordable testing and to help link people who need HIV treatment to the right care.
“In this, its 30th year, the theme of World Aids Day is ‘know your status’. Why? Because everyone who needs it should have the chance of dignified help and support. That can only happen if we know our status.
“Let’s get them the help they need and ensure no one is left behind, wherever they may live and whoever they may be, so that we can truly create an Aids-free future.”
The Independent’s AIDSfree campaign will fund for HIV testing and treatment in six international cities where help is needed – Nairobi, Kenya; Maputo in Mozambique; Delhi, India; Atlanta in the US; the Ukrainian capital Kiev and London.
Sir Elton and Evgeny Lebedev, owner of The Independent and the Evening Standard, travelled to Atlanta last week, one city selected for the Christmas appeal where the situation has become markedly worse in recent years.
They were able to try out a recent developments in testing – a simple swab, wiped around the mouth, that people can do for themselves without even needing to go to a medical facility.
Sir Elton’s AIDS Foundation is in some parts of the world planning to make it available for free in supermarkets so there is no barrier for anyone to getting a test when they want it.
“Over the next few weeks, we will campaign to help those at risk of infection to access treatment,” Mr Lebedev said.
“We will tell the stories of the people who have been forgotten. We will fight to make sure governments give the disease the attention it requires.”
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