A potential Trump presidency makes Elton John “fear for the world” — at least when it comes to fighting the global HIV crisis.
The musician and longtime AIDS activist was in Durban this week for the 21st International AIDS Conference. On Wednesday, the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, announced the first two recipients of a $10 million fund to “address stigma, discrimination and violence” experienced by LGBT people, and to expand their access to HIV care and prevention.
The next day, after meeting with HIV-positive adolescents at KwaZulu-Natal Children’s Hospital, Elton and his husband sat down for an interview with Mic.
“If you are in a country where it’s illegal to be gay and they’re withholding your medicine because you’re gay, we will get them the medicine,” the composer said of the $10 million LGBT fund. “If you’re in prison or you’re incarcerated for being gay, we will get you legal help — we will get you out of prison.
David Furnish remarked:
“Pushing people away contributes to people’s shame. It also makes them feel less likely to seek information about sexual health, less likely to have a dialogue with their doctor about their medication, less likely to feel confident and comfortable picking their medication up.
“It takes everything and just pushes it into the shadows — and that’s where this disease thrives. It thrives on the disenfranchised. It thrives on the marginalised.”
Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, is said to have supported his state’s “religious freedom” legislation, opposed same-sex marriage and civil unions and advocated putting HIV/AIDS funds toward conversion therapy instead.
“They’re insane, basically — in a nutshell, they’re insane,” said Elton, who has asked Trump to stop using his music for campaign events. “Let’s cut to the quick here.”
As for Pence, who’s proclaimed his deep Christian faith, Elon countered, “I don’t see any Christian act in him — you’re not a Christian in a million years. You’re probably the furthest thing away from Christianity there is.”
Elton, David, and other activists fear Trump will cut funding to PEPFAR, the U.S. initiative, established under President George W. Bush, to fight HIV worldwide.
In October, Donald Trump was asked if he would “commit to doubling the number of people” receiving treatment through PEPFAR.
“Yes, I believe so strongly in that and we’re going to lead the way,” he answered. But some still remain skeptical.