Last Monday, the Elton John AIDS Foundation hosted its 11th annual benefit, An Enduring Vision, in order to raise money for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and awareness programs across the Western Hemisphere. The benefit was held in New York City and raised $2 million for the Foundation. The star-studded event was hosted by CNN reporter Anderson Cooper, and singer Stevie Nicks performed at the gala dinner.
During the keynote speech, Elton John stressed the importance of eliminating the stigma associated with the AIDS epidemic. “The AIDS disease is caused by a virus, but the AIDS epidemic is not. The AIDS epidemic is fueled by stigma, by hate, by misinformation, by ignorance, by indifference. Science has accomplished miracles over the past 20 years, and science can now end this disease – but it cannot end the epidemic. We need more than medicine… We can do something about these things. We need to speak out about the changes we need to make in our society. We have spoken out. And we will continue to speak out.”
Elton John also recalled Ryan White, a teenager who contracted AIDS in 1984 after a blood transfusion for his hemophilia. White became a poster child for young people with AIDS after he was expelled from middle school because of the disease. John was with the boy and his family when he passed away in 1990. Six months after he died, John decided to start a foundation to “make up for lost time”.
The Elton John AIDS Foundation was established in 1992 in the US as a nonprofit organization, and in 1993 in the UK as a registered charity. Together, the organizations have raised over $275 million dollars for AIDS prevention, awareness, and treatment programs in 55 countries around the world. One of the Foundation’s main goals is to eliminate the stigma associated with the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and does so by stimulating dialogue on critical and controversial issues and policies that hinder the progress of HIV prevention and awareness.
To learn more about the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s events, grants, and programs, check out their website: ejaf.org