AIDS Conference Welcomed Sir Elton John And Prince Harry In South Africa

The International AIDS Conference 2016 welcomed Sir Elton John and Prince Harry in South Africa, where they joined forces to raise awareness about HIV.

The International Aids Conference was held in Durban, South Africa. This year, singer Sir Elton John established grants to give out to help end discrimination and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Elton John is an openly gay man and has become very involved in supporting LGBT groups in less fortunate parts of the world with high rates of HIV.

“We’re going to help all the LGBT people in countries that find it very difficult to be LGBT to know that we are on their side.”

Reuters reported that the $10 million LGBT Fund was launched in November by the Elton John Aids Foundation and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, according to the U.S. State Department.

Elton John instated these grants to help communities around the world expand their efforts to prevent the spread of HIV and to improve the treatment of HIV and AIDS. Almost 3.5 million people in South Africa are taking antiretroviral drugs; it is the largest HIV/AIDS treatment program in the world.

AIDS is highly prevalent in various places across South Africa, but most African nations have laws that actually make being gay a crime. Some even having laws to punish LGBT supporters as well.

Prince Harry joined the International Aids Conference as well as he continued on his mother, Princess Diana’s, humanitarian legacy today. He stepped onstage with the superstar to raise awareness about HIV to the international stage.

“When my mother held the hand of a man dying of AIDS, no one imagined a quarter century later, HIV positive people would live full healthy loving lives.”

ABC News released that the charming prince was at the conference representing his charity, Sentebale, which provides aid to children in Lesotho, South Africa. The International Aids Conference was also attended by celebrities like Charlize Theron and has been highly supported publicly by Bill and Melinda Gates.

Harry notably recognized how much progress and change has been accomplished since the start of the AIDS conference.

“At the time of the first International AIDS conference, HIV was a death sentence. Treatment was not widely available in the developed world, let alone in poorer regions. Stigma kept HIV positive people from talking openly about their condition and kept vulnerable people from having the courage to step into a clinic and ask for a test.”

During Prince Harry’s speech, he was sure to thank the leaders who have done so much for the fight against HIV.

“Thanks to the work of leaders in the fight against HIV — people like Nelson Mandela, Sir Elton John, the brave activists of TAG and ACT UP, people like Dr. Peter Piot, and like my mother, Princess Diana — we have made huge progress.”

Prince Harry admirably went about the rest of the speech motivating others to step up and start acknowledging the stigma. It is clear that this cause is something that Harry has taken up and found near and dear to his heart.

Before arriving at the International AIDS Conference in South Africa, Harry had spent some time visiting his charity in Lesotho. He got a chance to see his hard work in action as he met people who would have been facing a death sentence had it not have been for his charity. AIDS is a treatable, if not curable disease now.

Due to Prince Harry’s work with Sentebale, people are able to receive not only medical care, but they also get emotional and psychological care and support as well, which is something that people in that area would not have even dreamed about before.

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Harry and Sir Elton John also spent a good amount of time with the children in attendance, answering questions about the AIDS epidemic and what they are trying to accomplish still.

Sir Elton John has two children, Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John, and Elijah Joseph Daniel Furnish-John, with his husband, David Furnish. Prince Harry also has close ties with the little ones as he is a new uncle to William and Kate’s young Charlotte and George, and another little one on the way!

Last week, Harry took an HIV test and broadcasted it on Facebook Live. He has made raising awareness around HIV/AIDS the primary focus of his charitable work this year.

[Photo by Chris Jackson-Pool/Getty Images]

Harry posted the video on the royal family’s YouTube page. Watch the video here.

[Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Stringer/Getty Images and WPA Pool/Pool/Getty Images]