At the EJAF‘s Academy Awards Viewing Party earlier this year, Elton celebrated the Oscar-nominated documentary How to Survive a Plague, praising the extraordinary work of the early AIDS activists portrayed in the film and calling for a renewed emphasis on AIDS advocacy.
“How to Survive a Plague tells the story of AIDS activism in the earliest and most terrifying years of the AIDS epidemic. But you know what? Today, that activism is needed now more than ever if we are to achieve the promise of an AIDS-free generation,” said the songwriter. “Our foundation is clear on what is needed, we’re vocal in standing for what we believe, and we invest in the work that needs to be done. And I promise you that we’ll keep on fighting until the politics and bureaucracies yield to reason and justice. I don’t care how long it takes, we’re going to fight, and we’re going to win.”
More recently, the Evening Standard published an article by Elton’s partner, who also complimented the movie.
David Furnish wrote: ”As I know from my work with the Elton John AIDS Foundation, many of the people carrying the HIV virus in London today are either gay men or recent African immigrants. There are people who would rather remain silent about this because they are worried that it gives fuel to bigots who want to attack and demean these groups.
”But How to Survive a Plague shows the right way to respond to bigotry. Don’t deny it. Acknowledge it. Fight it. At the end of this month it is National HIV Testing Week. We need a big national push to get ourselves and our friends tested —without stigma, without shame and without stalling.
”As the documentary shows, Peter Staley was a bond trader with J P Morgan on Wall Street until he was diagnosed as HIV-positive in the first wave of the crisis. He was certain he was going to die.
”He played a key role in all the activism, not for himself — he was sure it was too late — but for the next generation. He told a conference: ‘Some day there will be a people alive on this Earth who will hear the story that once there was a terrible disease, and that a brave group of people stood up and fought — and in some cases died — so that others might live and be free.’
‘‘Peter Staley lived. Peter Staley won. Peter Staley is alive. He survived a plague, and thanks to people like him, millions of others will too.
”We should thank them, and follow their example, into the fight against AIDS and into our doctors’ surgeries to get tested.”
How to Survive a Plague can soon be seen at a number of UK cinemas.
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