Elton John welcomes expansion of HIV testing to 46 accident and emergency departments across England

Elton John: “HIV is still a hot topic. It should be part of our current priorities. »

Sir Elton John

LONDON , / PRNewswire/ — At an All-Party Parliamentary Group on HIV and AIDS reception on December 4th at Speaker’s House, a tribute was paid to Elton John in recognition of his unwavering commitment to end the AIDS epidemic, both through his personal efforts and those of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Earlier that day, Victoria Atkins, UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, outlined how the UK Government will expand the HIV and communicable hepatitis testing program to 46 new emergency departments in England by blood which has enjoyed enormous success. Expanding the 33-site program to all high-prevalence areas could not only find many of the 4,500 people living with undiagnosed HIV, but also prevent further transmissions and save more lives.

LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 29: Sir Elton John and Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, attend a reception honouring Sir Elton John hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on HIV/AIDS at Speakers House in recognition of his enduring commitment to ending the AIDS epidemic, both personally and through the work of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, on November 29, 2023 in London, England. – Photo by Dave Benett

Speaking in front of a packed room in the residence of the Speaker of the House of Commons, Elton John welcomed the British government’s decision to continue the deployment of screening tests: “My Foundation and its partners have carried out a three-year pilot project (2018-2021) in the South London boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham. This pioneering approach has shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that screening tests work in accident and emergency services. Indeed, by subjecting people to automatic screening more quickly, it is possible to reduce the transmission of HIV, the spread of the disease and the number of deaths, which translates, according to health economists’ estimates, into savings of over €55 million for the NHS. This is why I welcome the statements made by the Secretary of State today, according to which this program will be extended to all areas with high HIV prevalence, namely in 46 new accident and emergency departments located in local hospitals across England. »

Meanwhile, Elton John shared his personal thoughts on the long-standing fight against the AIDS epidemic, calling on all politicians to do more: “Whoever wins the next general election can help end AIDS in the world by 2030. This fight begins here, in our country. In the UK, the number of new HIV diagnoses has fallen by 46% since peaking in 2015[1]. We can be the first country in the world to defeat this terrible virus. We must shoulder our responsibilities, achieve the goal of the United Nations and set an example for other countries. »

“In the 1990s, I visited far too many homes where people were dying of AIDS. I remember the feeling of helplessness and suffocation that reigned when one after another these people succumbed to the disease, without knowing the situation would one day improve. These memories are etched in my soul and have taught me a lot. Like millions of people, I saw images of my friend Princess Diana publicly shaking the hand of a man dying of AIDS. These images helped me realize that we should not underestimate the power that a simple gesture of compassion can have. »

“I founded my Foundation the year after Freddie Mercury died. Our goal was to spread love and compassion, while striving to leave no one behind. Today, 31 years later, we have accomplished so much. We have raised almost half a billion euros and funded thousands of programs around the world. Additionally, we have funded almost every HIV charity in the UK and every major NHS facility that provides HIV treatment. We have helped 100 million people around the world and saved 5 million lives. I never imagined that my Foundation’s work would become a lifelong commitment or that so many people would need our help. »

“I implore you, politicians, not to waste the time allocated to you, to act and to step out of your comfort zone. If you do this, I can promise you this: I will fight alongside you for equal access and fair treatment. I will do everything possible, until my dying day, to end HIV and AIDS. We must stay the course at all costs. I hope to one day be able to applaud a room like this after we end this outbreak. »

Today, 39 million people worldwide are living with HIV and 1.3 million new cases of infection were recorded last year. Given these figures, Elton John stressed that the United Kingdom must make more of an effort internationally. In particular, it calls on the country to restore its full commitment to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, to establish new models of partnership and engagement, as well as to protect civil liberties.

“Abandoning efforts to end AIDS would not only be a failure for the 39 million people living with the disease, but also a failure to prepare for the next global virus, because we know that the fight against AIDS can prepare for pandemics. This is why we must increase our commitment to the Global Fund, not reduce it. Furthermore, if the Government is serious about ending AIDS, I call on them to fully restore the UK’s commitment, to pledge a donation of €1.70 billion for the current three-year cycle and to ensure that the Global Fund is fully funded. »

World AIDS Day will be celebrated on December 1, and despite advances in treatment, 630,000 people have died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2022. Globally, HIV rates are rising fastest among young people than any other group, and more than half of people living with HIV are women and girls. Currently, more than nine million people do not access life-saving treatments, mostly because shame and stigma discourage them from doing so.

SOURCE Elton John AIDS Foundation

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