July 24, 2012
Speaking Monday at the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington, singer Elton John called for more love for those affected by HIV. "I have just been to the AIDS quilt, and I have seen so much love for the dead," John said of the panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt on view in the capital. "What we need is more love for the living."
John praised the U.S. initiative that has helped millions of people in developing nations access HIV treatment, but he noted that more than 1.1 million Americans have the virus.
"Do you want to end the epidemic in America? Then show some compassion for those who can't afford treatment. Show compassion for those with HIV in Washington, D.C., most of whom are poor and black," John said. "Americans have shown so much love for those living with HIV in the developing world. If Americans wanted to show compassion for those living with HIV here at home, then it could do so in a heartbeat."
"Millions of people around the world feel ashamed because of who they are. They feel subhuman, worthless, like they don't matter at all," John said. "We have to replace the stigma with compassion."
Phill Wilson, founder of the Black AIDS Institute, agreed that some risky behavior seen among young people results from their feeling unloved and hopeless. "When you have young men who have been denied love their entire life, they will give anything to be loved, including their lives," he said.
Noting that young people who feel accepted and respected are more likely to form healthy relationships, Wilson said families can help stop the AIDS epidemic simply by supporting their children.