Sir Elton John

Sir Elton John Continues to Step Up to the Plate, Batting Home Runs

     While conducting my usual round of research, I uncovered a rather timely article by Darryl Hannah for Inside Philanthropy entitled, “With HIV Infections Rising among Gay Men, This Funder Aims to Sound the Alarm.”  Hannah stated, “Here in the U.S., AIDS can feel like yesterday’s news, and many funders long ago moved on to other issues, including many LGBT funders who’ve been focused on rights issues.”

     The writer continued, “In fact, though, the rate of new HIV infections remains very high, and is rising.  But you’d never know that judging by the complacency of the media or, unfortunately, of many gay men.  Which is why the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s (EJAF) latest grant making includes funding to raise awareness of the persistent threat of HIV.”

     According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the following dire and gloomy realities are concrete, undeniable evidence that we continue to need EJAF support, clout…and dollars more than ever:

  • In 2010, over 15,000 individuals died of AIDS.
  • Although gay/SGL (same gender loving) men make up just two percent of the U.S. population, they account for 55 percent of all AIDS deaths.
  • This two percent comprise the majority, 56 percent, of people living with HIV.
  • Gay/SGL men account for 66 percent of new HIV infections.
  • 12 to 13 percent of gay/SGL and bisexual men in the U.S. are HIV-positive—including one in five in many major American cities.
  • When you examine HIV/AIDS infections among African-American gay/SGL and bisexual men, the numbers are nearly doubled.

     Hannah wrote, “In short, AIDS is hardly a plague of the past in the gay community.  But it’s seen as such, and the Kaiser study found that few gay men said they discuss HIV with friends and sexual partners and 30 percent had never been tested for HIV.  Only a third knew that HIV infections are rising.  A majority said they were ‘not concerned’ about HIV.

     “It’s frightening findings like these that has the Elton John AIDS Foundation, one of the nation’s largest funders fighting HIV/AIDS, sounding the alarm more loudly and looking for ways to challenge rising complacency about AIDS in the LGBT community.”

     Recently, EJAF formed a partnership with the Human Rights Campaign.  The Foundation awarded this national LGBT organization a $300,000 grant to increase awareness of HIV prevention, treatment, and care among LGBT persons—with a specific focus on young gay/SGL and bisexual men, and transgender women.  The Foundation also hopes to increase awareness and access to care for low-income individuals.

     Additionally, EJAF has just announced $1.5 million in grants, which includes funding to combat stigma confronting those who are poz.

     According to Hannah, “Sir Elton John himself remains as dedicated to this issue as ever.  And deeply worried, too, about issues that he wants more widely shared.  In a recent op-ed for the New York Times, he wrote:

     “’…as engaged as the gay community and civil rights activists have been in the fight for marriage equality, we have lost ground on the fight that so intensely galvanized the gay community to begin with:  HIV and AIDS…we are failing to maintain the kind of basic awareness and education that is needed to save lives’.”    

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