Elton John: LGBT Africans Must Not Be Left Behind in AIDS Fight

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It is time for a new generation of leaders to step forward.

The Prince was like his mother Princess Diana, he said, in his ability to break down barriers.

He spoke Wednesday at a global AIDS conference in South Africa that has also attracted philanthropist Bill Gates, actress Charlize Theron and Britain's Prince Harry.

Sir Elton John meets delegates at a HIV conference in Durban.

The new global push comes at a time when children, aged 0 to 14 years, accounting for 5% of people living with HIV in 2015, represent 10% of all AIDS-related deaths.

In the late 1980s, when many still believed the disease could be contracted through casual contact, she sat on the sickbed of a man with Aids and held his hand. This year's theme, "Access Equity Rights Now" serves as a call for action and cooperation in reaching people who lack access to the life-saving treatment, prevention, and support services they deserve.

Harry, whose charity Sentebale already focuses on supporting HIV-positive young people in Lesotho, is now aiming to spread the message to his generation that the fight against HIV and Aids has not yet been won.

A massive scale-up of efforts from governments and worldwide agencies will be required to meet the goal of ending AIDS, along with better detection and treatment programmes and improving the affordability of antiretroviral drugs, the researchers said.

To achieve this goal, UNAIDS emphasized, "Prevention efforts will need to be matched by an equally robust effort to address the treatment needs of children living with HIV". More than 21,000 young people in Lesotho are HIV-positive‚ and the country has the second highest HIV prevalence rate in the world after SA.

The prince, who underwent a public finger-prick HIV test in London last week, added: "It is time for us to step up to make sure no young person feels any shame in asking for an HIV test".

"What I can do is ensure that people who are LGBT - if their clinics are closed down because they are LGBT - we can give them medicine".

"Just imagine what would happen if, in places like Lesotho and throughout Africa, children were given the tools to protect their health, to speak out against stigma and discrimination, and to support their friends and family", Harry said.

Although Sir Elton was hopeful, he said it was "disconcerting" that homophobia is still an issue in many parts of the world, and that many LGBT people do not have the freedom to be with their partner as he is.

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