Sir Elton John has urged political leaders to do more to eliminate the Aids epidemic, telling Parliament the UK “can be the first country in the world to defeat this awful virus”.
The music superstar, 76, was honoured at a reception hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on HIV and Aids at the Speaker’s House, in recognition of his commitment to ending the epidemic through the Elton John Aids Foundation.
It comes after Victoria Atkins, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, announced the UK Government will be expanding the roll-out of a HIV testing programme to 46 accident and emergency departments across England.
Sir Elton described it as “truly wonderful news” that the programme will expand from the current 33 sites to every high prevalence area.
He also urged “whoever wins the next general election” to do more to help end Aids worldwide by 2030.
“I implore you not to waste your allotted time as political leaders,” Sir Elton said.
“Take action and push things a little further than might feel comfortable. And as you do, I can promise you this: I will be there with you.
“Fighting for equal access and fair treatment. Giving everything I can for the rest of my life to ending HIV and Aids. Because we must stay the course.
“I long to applaud a room like this, after this epidemic has gone.”
Sir Elton suggested the UK should be at the forefront of the fight and showing other nations “how it’s done”.
“We can be the first country in the world to defeat this awful virus,” he said.
He also stressed the importance of the UK doing more internationally, including helping the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
He said: “If the Government is serious about ending Aids, I call on it to fully restore the UK’s commitment, to pledge £1.46 billion pounds this current three-year cycle and ensure the Global Fund is fully financed.”
Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, said: “An incoming Labour government will hit the ground running, because we must meet our target of ending new HIV cases in the UK by 2030.
“That’s why the Labour Party will commission an update to the HIV Action Plan as soon as we come to government.”
It comes as World Aids Day will be commemorated on December 1.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, said: “Sir Elton has been an unwavering advocate in the fight against HIV and Aids for four decades.
“His efforts have helped de-stigmatise the disease, promote education, and provide crucial support to those affected, making him a true champion in the goal to end Aids.”
Founded by the musician in 1992, the Elton John Aids Foundation funds frontline partners to prevent HIV infections, tackle stigma and provide care for vulnerable communities.
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