“I have just been to the AIDS quilt and I have seen so much love for the dead,” Elton said after visiting the National Mall in Washington, where panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, created to honour victims of the disease, stretch between the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol. “What we need is more love for the living.”
The singer, whose foundation gives away $18 million a year, spoke yesterday at AIDS 2012, an international gathering of more than 21,000 researchers, activists and policymakers. Elton and others applauded a message by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (seen below with the musician), who set a goal ”for a generation that is free of AIDS.”
Yet the best science in the world is useless if it doesn’t reach poor people, Elton pointed out. “Maybe you think I’m naïve,” he said at the conference. “Maybe you think I’m off my rocker. Here I am telling an audience of 7,000 global health experts that you can end AIDS with love.”
Yet he noted that landmark American legislation to provide AIDS relief to developing nations was based, fundamentally, on caring for other people. “Thanks to all this compassion, all this love, more than 8 million people are on treatment.
“Thanks to people who have chosen to act, who have chosen to care, we can see an end to this epidemic, but it’s going to take a lot more compassion to get us there, a hell of a lot more.”
Elton suggested that the way to move forward is by combining talents, knowledge and technical abilities to get the message out about AIDS, such as communicating through social media, although he acknowledged not knowing how to use Twitter.
”I have no idea how to tweet,” he admitted, as the crowd laughed. ”I can sing, but I cant tweet.”
Elton also noted what he said was an incredible change in attitudes towards gay marriage in the last few months.
He saluted several public figures for standing up in support of same-sex marriage including President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
He added that viewpoints on same-sex relationships have especially changed in the African-American community, thanks in part to comments by performers Jay-Z and Frank Ocean.
Elton believes there hasnt been a notable role model for the AIDS and HIV community since Magic Johnson.
”We need people to say its OK to be HIV positive,” he remarked. ”We need to move forward in that respect. We need to embrace each other.”