David Furnish, the elegant chairman of the Elton John AIDS Foundation and husband to Sir Elton John, gave me an exclusive video interview at the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to discuss how the foundation has changed the landscape of HIV services around the world. He also weighs in on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), undetectable equals untransmittable (U=U), and the importance of younger activists understanding their HIV/AIDS history.
Regarding the controversy over whether or not the International AIDS Society should cancel its plans to hold the next International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020) in San Francisco due to how inhospitable the U.S. has become toward immigrants, sex workers, and LGBT people -- in other words, the very key populations who are most deeply affected by HIV/AIDS -- Furnish remained cautiously politic about wading into the growing firestorm.
"Elton and I are not Americans, so it's difficult for us to get directly involved in American politics," Furnish said, before adding an enormous caveat. "However, we are watching the situation closely. If we see changes to LGBT status in America, if we see cutbacks and denial of access to healthcare -- all the building blocks, affordable medicines, all the things that allow us to get success and make the gains that we do -- then we have to speak up."
Follow #AIDS2020ForAll to see news and updates from activist groups working to move the next conference out of San Francisco.
The Elton John AIDS Foundation, as I mention to Furnish, is behind some of the most innovative and provocative funding in the arena today. I deeply appreciate that, as I do his generous time for our AIDS 2018 chat.
Be sure to check out all of Mark S. King's videos from AIDS 2018.