Elton John: 'There may come a time I meet Trump to discuss AIDS'

Elton John: 'There may come a time I meet Trump to discuss AIDS'

Elton John and husband David Furnish. Image: Getty

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Elton John has expressed hope that Donald Trump may be a key figure in the battle against HIV and AIDS.

Speaking at the annual United Nations AIDS conference in Amsterdam, he and his husband David Furnish, who is chairman of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, said they hoped the US’s PEPFAR initiative to fight AIDS would make a difference under the Trump regime.

"Maybe he could be the president of the United States who ends AIDS altogether. Why not?" John told CNN.

The Foundation’s LGBT fund is part-funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which was set up by the Bush administration.

Proposed cuts

Last year, Donald Trump proposed $1 billion worth of cuts to the US’s AIDS relief efforts, including PEPFAR.

A report by global advocacy organisation The One Campaign claimed the cuts could result in 1.75 million new cases of HIV infection per year.

Last year, PEPFAR revealed its new strategy which focused on 13 countries, meaning the future of its presence in the 50 other countries it currently works in was uncertain.

“There’s been no changes to PEPFAR yet, I think the thing that really helps keep PEPFAR alive is it was started under President Bush,” said Furnish.

“It’s one of the last few surviving non-partisan programmes. It started under a Republican regime, continued under a Democratic regime, at the moment it’s continuing under the Republican regime.

“If we do pull together we can make amazing things happen, it doesn’t have to be us and them.”

'There may come a time when we discuss AIDS'

“The world’s become us and them,” said John, and added that he wouldn’t rule out meeting the US President - a known fan of John’s music - to discuss AIDS prevention

“Trump has always come to my shows in the past, he’s a fan,” he said.

“There may come a time when we meet to discuss the subject of AIDS, that time hasn’t come, because PEPFAR is still in existence.”

“If we see changes in the healthcare landscape… that’s the time to pick up the phone,” added Furnish.

According to the website, the Elton John AIDS Foundation has awarded £96 million in grants to 1,409 projects.

United Nations statistics show there were around 36.7 million people living with HIV or AIDS at the end of 2016.

The number of people accessing antiretroviral therapy globally increased by 5.1 million between 2015 and 2017.