WASHINGTON (AFP) – Rock star Elton John teamed up with the Obama administration Friday to launch a new US$7 million fund to provide access to HIV services in South Africa.
The fund will be established for men who have sex with men and transgender people in the nation, the only African country where same-sex marriage is legal.
The British pop music icon lent star power to the State Department when he met with US Secretary of State John Kerry in his private offices to discuss the roll out of the project, part of efforts to create a world free of AIDS.
“We all work together to ensure that in this day and age, nobody gets left behind no matter what their sexuality, their colour, or whatever. It’s important,” John told reporters.
“If people get left behind, the disease will get left behind, and we will face an enormous uphill battle.”
The singer and his partner David Furnish were in the US capital ahead of being guests of honour at the Human Rights Campaign annual gala on Saturday.
The Elton John AIDS Foundation is teaming up with the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to expand HIV-related services as part of a new South African programme called Health4Men.
Kerry said the project would “help bring additional assistance to people and help us meet this goal of an AIDS-free generation”.
“We’re going to continue to work together to bring this help to all those folks, particularly in the LGBT community, who need this particular assistance,” Kerry added, using an acronym for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
John’s foundation has raised more than $300 million to support AIDS programmes in more than 50 countries.
“We should be living in an AIDS-free world, and people, no matter who they love, who they are, should have a right to be AIDS-free,” John added.