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- Elton John welcomes expansion of opt-out testing for HIV to 46 accident and emergency centers across England and calls on all political leaders to do more to end AIDS in speech at President's House
Elton John: "HIV is not a story of yesterday. It should be a priority today."
LONDON, Nov. 30, 2023/PRNewswire/ -- Elton John was honored today at a reception hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on HIV/AIDS at President's House in recognition of his long-standing commitment to ending the epidemic of AIDS, both personally and through the work of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Victoria Atkins, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, today outlined how the UK Government will expand the successful NHS blood-borne virus testing program for HIV and hepatitis to 46 new emergency departments across England. Expanding the programme, from the current 33 sites to all high prevalence areas, could identify a significant proportion of the approximately 4,500 people living with undiagnosed HIV, prevent new transmissions and save more lives.
Addressing a packed President's House, Elton John welcomed the UK government's largest rollout of opt-out testing: "My Foundation and partners ran a three-year pilot (2018-2021) in the districts of Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham, south London. This pioneering approach proved beyond doubt that opt-out testing works in A&E and A&E. Self-testing reaches people sooner, meaning less HIV transmission, less illnesses, fewer deaths and, health economists estimate, a £50 million saving for the NHS. So to hear today from the Secretary of State that this work will be expanded to all areas of high HIV prevalence. "46 new Accident and Emergency departments in local hospitals across England...more than doubling the number of HIV tests, it's really wonderful news."
He also shared his personal reflections on the long fight to end the AIDS epidemic and called on all political leaders to do more: "Whoever wins the next general election can help end AIDS around the world by 2030. Getting started here at home. In the UK, new HIV diagnoses have fallen by 46% since their peak in 2015. We can be the first country in the world to defeat this terrible virus. By doing our part, meeting the goal of the United Nations and showing other nations how it's done.
"In the 1990s, I visited too many homes where people were dying of AIDS. I remember the feeling of helplessness and suffocation as they succumbed one after another, not knowing if it would ever end. These memories are etched in my soul and "It taught me a lot. "I saw, as millions of others did, images of my friend Princess Diana publicly shaking the hand of a man dying of AIDS and realized that a simple act of compassion is a force to be reckoned with."
"My Foundation was born a year after Freddie's death. Spreading love and compassion was our compass. Leaving no one behind was our practice. 31 years on, we have achieved a lot. We have raised nearly half a billion pounds, funding thousands of programs around the world. We have funded almost every HIV charity in the UK and every major NHS place where you can get HIV treatment. We have reached 100 million people around the world and "We have saved 5 million lives. I never thought that my Foundation's work would become a lifelong commitment or that so many people would need our help."
"I implore you not to waste the time allotted to you as political leaders. Take action and take things a little further than you are comfortable with. And while you do, I can promise you this: I will be there with you. Fighting for equal access and fair treatment. Give everything I can for the rest of my life to end HIV/AIDS. Because we must stay the course. I long to applaud a room like this, after this epidemic is gone." .
With 39 million people worldwide living with HIV and 1.3 million people infected last year, Elton John also spoke about the need for the UK to do more internationally – restoring the UK's full commitment to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, establishing new models of partnership and commitment, and protecting civil liberties.
"Abandoning the end of AIDS would not only be a failure for the 39 million people living with the disease. We would be unprepared for any global virus that comes next, because we know that fighting AIDS is pandemic preparation in action. We should increase our commitment to the Global Fund, not cut it. And if the government is serious about ending AIDS, I am calling on it to fully restore the UK's commitment, to pledge £1.46bn in this current three-year cycle and to ensure that the Global Fund is fully funded."
December 1 will be World AIDS Day, and despite advances in treatment, 630,000 people will die from AIDS-related illnesses in 2022. Around the world, HIV rates are rising most rapidly among young people than any other group and more than half of people living with HIV are women and girls. More than nine million people currently do not access potentially life-saving treatment, all too often because shame and stigma hold them back.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, welcomed guests from all major political parties and leading HIV/AIDS organizations to the event, saying: "It is an honor to host this reception for Elton John in recognition to his work to end HIV and AIDS. Sir Elton has been a staunch advocate in the fight against HIV and AIDS for four decades. His efforts have helped destigmatize the disease, promote education and provide crucial support to those affected, which makes him a true champion in the goal of ending AIDS.
Florence Eshalomi MP, co-chair of the APPG HIV/AIDS, also welcomed the government's announcement and praised Elton John for his ongoing work: "We are delighted that the government has today taken concrete steps to increase and standardize HIV testing. HIV in the UK The APPG believes that as parliamentarians we must play our part in tackling this epidemic and this is something we have been calling for following the successful implementation of opt-out in areas of extremely high prevalence. We also We echo Elton John's comments that while this "Will have a very real and significant impact, there is still a lot of work to be done to end the AIDS epidemic both here in the UK and abroad."
Anne Aslett, CEO of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, noted: "The Elton John AIDS Foundation was created by Elton at his kitchen table in Atlanta, Georgia, in the 1990s, when all we could do for people living with AIDS was to provide food and comfort and, ultimately, end-of-life care. Thirty years later, the Foundation has raised more than $565 million for HIV/AIDS grants around the world and has funded over 3,000 projects in over 90 countries. Spreading love and compassion has always been our compass, leaving no one behind. We are delighted by the UK Government's announcement today to further expand testing of opt-out, an approach we first trialled with our partners in London boroughs in 2018. This policy will keep people in care, save lives and is a crucial step towards meeting the goal of ending new cases of HIV in the UK by 2030.”
David Furnish, Chairman of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, said: "We have come a long way towards an AIDS-free future and the UK Government's decision to expand opt-out testing will ensure that more people receive the care and adequate treatment they need to live full, healthy lives. If politicians everywhere commit to the actions outlined today by Elton John, we have a real chance of achieving something incredible by becoming the first country to stop new transmissions of HIV." .
Victoria Atkins, Health and Social Care Secretary, said: "Less than three decades ago, HIV could be a death sentence. It was often (and wrongly) seen as a source of shame, and diagnoses were hidden from friends. , family and society. But today, thanks to effective treatments, it is possible to live a long and healthy life with HIV.
"The work of brilliant activists and charities, including the Elton John AIDS Foundation, whose efforts have helped us get to where we are today, deserves to be celebrated. As well as promoting prevention for all, the more people we can diagnose, "This is the best chance we have to end new transmissions of the virus and the stigma that is wrongly attributed to it. By improving people's health and well-being, this program saves lives and saves money."
Keir Starmer, leader of the Labor Party, commented: "The tireless work of activists, survivors, scientists, medical staff and others has meant that, for the first time, we can say that the end of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is on the way." We have a world where HIV positive people can live freely and love freely, something many people were once too scared to even dream of. "The incredible progress made so far, which resulted in the expansion of the National Health Service's (NHS) opt-out system of blood-borne virus testing programme, should be widely celebrated."
"Sir Elton John has been a constant voice for this cause throughout his life. He has raised millions of pounds for frontline services and saved lives by breaking the stigma of seeing lives lost in darkness. We will be forever grateful for his dedication to the public. But if we want to leave no one behind, there is still much to do. The incoming Labor government will get to work, because we must meet our goal of ending new cases of HIV in the UK by 2030 "That's why the Labor Party will commission an update to the HIV Action Plan as soon as we come into government."
Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, explained: "More than 40 million lives have been lost to AIDS. Even now, AIDS claims another precious life every minute. The AIDS pandemic It's not over, but it can be. Elton John has fought tirelessly for four decades to end this terrible disease and the injustices that cause it; now it is politicians who must act and implement the necessary programs and policies to support communities both nationally and internationally to end AIDS for all.
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About the Elton John AIDS Foundation:
The Elton John AIDS Foundation was established in 1992 and is one of the leading independent AIDS organizations in the world. The Foundation's mission is simple: end the AIDS epidemic. The Elton John AIDS Foundation is committed to overcoming the stigma, discrimination and neglect that prevent us from ending AIDS. Mobilizing our network of generous supporters and partners, we fund local experts on four continents to challenge discrimination, prevent infections and provide treatment, and influence governments to end AIDS. www.eltonjohnaidsfoundation.org
About Elton John:
Elton's professional achievements to date are unsurpassed in breadth and longevity. Elton is one of the best-selling solo artists of all time. In the UK and US charts alone he has 1 diamond album, 33 platinum or multi-platinum and 22 gold albums, as well as over 85 Top 40 hits. He has sold over 300 million records worldwide. .
He holds the record for the best-selling physical single of all time, "Candle in the Wind 1997", which sold over 33 million copies. Released in 2017, 'Diamonds', the Ultimate Greatest Hits album, became Elton's 43rd UK Top 40 album and has spent over 300 consecutive weeks in the top 75 of the UK album charts. , over 190 of them in the top 20. This release celebrated 50 years of his songwriting partnership with Bernie Taupin. It reached the number 2 position in the UK in July 2023, achieving 4x platinum status in the process and is the longest charting album in Elton's 62-deep catalog of his career.
In August 2018, Elton was named the most successful male solo artist in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, having recorded 67 entries, including nine No. 1s and 29 Top 10s. 'The Lockdown Sessions', an album of collaborations Recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was released in October 2021 and went straight to No. 1 on the UK album charts, becoming Elton's eighth UK No. 1 album in the process. Its lead single, "Cold Heart (PNAU Remix) with Dua Lipa", became a bona fide global hit, reaching No. 1 on over 20 charts worldwide, including the UK and Australia. Its success meant that Elton became the first solo artist to achieve a Top 10 single in the UK in six consecutive decades. In the United States, he holds the record for longest span among Billboard's top 40 hits at age 50. He has currently recorded 71 entries, including nine No. 1s and 29 Top 10s. Elton also holds the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart record with 18 number ones and 76 songs in total. Summer 2022 saw another global hit single, when Elton and Britney Spears released 'Hold Me Closer', a top five hit in the UK and number one on the Australian singles charts.
Elton announced the 'Farewell Yellow Brick Road' tour at New York's Gotham Hall in January 2018. The tour began on September 10, 2018 in North America and subsequently saw Elton play 330 shows to over 6.25 millions of fans across the UK, Europe and North America. and Australasia. The shows marked his retirement from touring after more than 50 years of touring. In 2019 it was named Billboard's Top Rock Tour and Pollstar's Big Tour of the Year. The US leg of the tour concluded with 3 sold-out shows at Dodger Stadium. The concert was broadcast live on Disney in all the territories in which the channel broadcasts, a world first. Elton headlined Glastonbury's Pyramid Stage in June 2023, the last UK show before the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour concludes. Sunday night's closing performance was widely heralded as one of the biggest performances in the festival's rich history, drawing one of the largest crowds ever witnessed at the festival. It also received the largest televised audience ever seen for a Glastonbury set, reaching 7.6 million overnight on BBC1. Elton has performed more than 4,600 performances in more than 80 countries since he launched his first tour in 1970.
2019 also saw the release of 'Rocketman' and the globally best-selling autobiography, 'ME'. 'Rocketman', an epic fantasy musical film about Elton's life, has been a critical and commercial success, grossing nearly $200 million at the box office. It won an Oscar, two Golden Globes and a Critics' Choice Award and earned four BAFTA nominations. The soundtrack was also nominated for a GRAMMY Award.
Among the many awards and honors bestowed upon him are six GRAMMYs, including a GRAMMY Legend Award, a Tony and two Oscars, a BRIT Award for Best British Male Artist, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Hall of Fame. Songwriters of Fame, the Kennedy Center Honor, Legend of Live Award, 13 Ivor Novello Awards, and a knighthood from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for "services to music and charitable services."
In 1992, Elton created the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which today is a leader in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. To date, the Foundation has raised more than $565 million for HIV/AIDS grants, funding more than 3,000 projects in more than 90 countries. In June 2019, President Emmanuel Macron presented Elton with the Legion of Honor, France's highest award, for his contribution to the arts and the fight against HIV/AIDS. Elton received the Companion of Honor award in the 2021 UK New Year Honors list. Elton, the highest honor on the list, became one of 64 people to hold this honor. In September 2022, President Biden awarded him the National Humanities Medal in recognition of his outstanding career and advocacy work to end AIDS.
Always a tireless advocate for new artists, Elton has been a leading industry voice in lobbying the government to give young artists visa-free touring rights in Europe after Brexit.
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