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The Elton John AIDS Foundation and the International AIDS Conference have  announced that Sir Elton and Prince Harry of Wales will host a youth-focused special session at the 2016 International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa.

The session will address the HIV epidemic among adolescents with a particular emphasis on the impact stigma and discrimination have on youth. The pair will be joined by Prince Seeiso of Lesotho and a panel of young advocates who will describe what is and what is not working for the HIV response among young people, and what must change to truly address the needs of youth with HIV. The EJAF will also announce the first recipient of the LGBT Fund, a $10 million partnership with the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

“Today, HIV/AIDS is a treatable disease and no longer the death sentence it was ten years ago, but we cannot grow complacent in our fight to eradicate it completely. If our efforts wane, anti-viral drug resistance will resurface, transmission rates will again rise, and this disease, which knows no boundaries, will once again become a ruthless pandemic with disastrous and far-reaching consequences,” said Elton. “Many LGBT people and youth around the world still don’t have access to life-saving treatment and face high cases of stigma and discrimination. I look forward to working with Prince Harry and other world leaders to help make our dream of an AIDS-free world a reality.”

Responding to the AIDS crisis in Africa has been a key priority for the foundation and has focused primarily on youth and LGBT people. In 2015, the EJAF established ‘Young Survivors’ – a fundraising campaign to save the lives of young people living with HIV in selected African cities. Since launching this campaign, the organisation has invested more than $3.42 million to support projects in five locations: Harare (Zimbabwe), Kampala (Uganda), Kisumu (Kenya), Lusaka (Zambia) and Beira (Mozambique). In 2014, the EJAF and PEPFAR awarded $7 million to Health4Men, a South African-based program that provides free and confidential health care for men who have sex with men.

The EJAF and PEPFAR will also host a press conference on July 20to formally announce the first grantee of their joint LGBT Fund. This fund, launched last year, will support non-governmental organisations in multiple countries in Sub Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, and will provide information and services to the LGBT community. The announcement of the inaugural recipient also comes one year after Elton’s historic testimony before the U.S. Foreign Operations Appropriations Committee.

“We are proud to partner with PEPFAR for the joint LGBT Fund to increase our support for Africa’s LGBT community,” commented EJAF Chairman David Furnish. “Today, an estimated 19 million of the 35 million people living with HIV worldwide do not even know they have the virus. Approximately 68 percent of new infections are in sub-Saharan Africa. International support in the global fight to eradicate HIV/AIDS is crucial as millions of people around the world still lack access to life-saving prevention, care and treatment.”

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