Sir Elton John spoke at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, urging lawmakers to approve funding to combat AIDS.
"I'm here today with a simple message: The AIDS epidemic is not over," Sir Elton said. "And America’s continued leadership is critical."
The Grammy-winning singer has long led efforts to raise money to fight the deadly disease. But he fears that ground will be lost in the battle if funding to fight HIV and AIDS is reduced. "We're going back to square one," he said.
"This is the most powerful legislative body in the world," Sir Elton said. "This Congress indeed has the power to end AIDS. I am here today to ask you to use that power.
"There is a window of opportunity before us — a window through which we can very clearly see the end of AIDS — within my lifetime," he said. "We cannot afford to let that window close."
Sir Elton praised the efforts of President George W. Bush to develop the bipartisan President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), but added that much work remained to be done.
"Our work is not done yet," Sir Elton said. "Although PEPFAR and the Global Fund have made a huge impact, the reality is that most people living with or at risk of contracting HIV do not have access to lifesaving prevention, care and treatment. But all of that can change, and will change, if Congress remains steadfast in its commitment to ending this epidemic."
Sir Elton was hosted by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democrat Senator Patrick J. Leahy, members of the Appropriations subcommittee, who praised his efforts to combat the disease.
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