The musician and Aids campaigner told Congress it has the power to end the disease
Elton John has urged a US Senate panel to help eradicate Aids by funding a global programme to fight the disease.
The singer, who founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992, attended a hearing with the legislative body, where The Guardian reports that he said that US support could help bring about the end of the disease in his lifetime.
“The Aids epidemic is not over, and America’s continued leadership is critical,” he told the Senate appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations. “You have the power to maintain America’s historic commitment to leading the global campaign against this disease. I’m here today to ask you to use that power.”
He continued: “I have stood at too many bedsides, in America, England and across Africa helplessly watching people die in pain. To bear the thought that we might go back to those dark days is unthinkable.”
The event was set up to discuss plans for HIV/Aids relief fund Pepfar, which was established in 2003 and renewed in 2008 by George W Bush’s administration.
Elsewhere, John recently released a joint statement with REM singer Michael Stipe defending the rights of transgender prisoners, following a series of harrowing reports detailing the treatment of transgender inmates in prisons across the US state of Georgia.
“Transgender women in male prisons have an equal right to protection from violence and abuse in prison, yet they continue to face horrific injustices,” the pair wrote in a joint statement that references the experiences of two transgender inmates, Ashley Diamond and Zahara Green.
Diamond recently won the support of the US Justice Department, who intervened on her behalf in the lawsuit she filed against Georgia corrections officials following her extensive abuse in prison. As reported by the New York Times, Diamond was denied access to her hormone therapy treatment, thrown into solitary confinement for “pretending to be a woman” and subjected to multiple counts of sexual abuse.
Zahara Green’s story was published last year by Buzzfeed, who reported that the Georgia prison inmate was forced to share a cell with her abuser.
“The experiences of Ashley Diamond and Zahara Green cast a harsh light on the brutality, torture and horrible conditions inside Georgia prisons today,” the musicians wrote.
The statement added: “They are emblematic of the continued discrimination experienced by transgender inmates – who are 13 times more likely to be sexually assaulted while incarcerated. This is outrageous, and the message it sends is horrific: that violence against and discrimination of trans people is not only allowed, but sanctioned.
“We applaud the US Department of Justice for supporting Ashley Diamond and the trans community in arguing that Georgia’s policy of denying transgender inmates their medically necessary hormone treatment is unconstitutional.
“But we must do more to end the culture of violence and discrimination surrounding gender identity and expression. We urge the state of Georgia to embrace desperately needed changes to their correctional system.”