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In op-ed, Elton John says in the U.S., the fight against AIDS is "exacerbated by racism, bias, and discrimination"

ABC/Craig Sjodin

One of the biggest takeaways from the COVID-19 pandemic has been how people of color are disproportionately affected. Now, Elton John‘s written an op-ed saying the same is true for HIV/AIDS — especially in the U.S.

Coinciding with the 2020 International AIDS Conference, Elton writes in The Atlantic, “The color of your skin should not determine the quality of your health. But in the United States, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is exacerbated by racism, bias, and discrimination.”

“As America continues its long-overdue reckoning with racism and systemic injustice, we must address the devastating impact of the disease on the Black community,” he continues. “An end to the AIDS epidemic can only be achieved through dignity, respect, love, and compassion for all.”

He started the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992 because he believes “everyone deserves the right to a healthy life, no matter who you love, who you are, or where you’re from.” Elton praises the “impressive strides” the U.S. has made towards ending AIDS.  But, he says, racial inequalities need to be addressed. 

He cites these statistics:

–Black Americans are 13% of the population, but in 2018, they represented 42% percent of new HIV diagnoses. Black Americans living with HIV/AIDS are seven times more likely than white people to die from it.

–American gay or bisexual Black men have a 50% lifetime chance of being diagnosed with HIV, compared with nine percent for gay or bisexual white men.

–An estimated 44% of Black trans women are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS.

Elton points out that these disparities “reflect centuries of discrimination,” concluding, “We can achieve an AIDS-free generation in America — but only if we design a system of care that embraces Black people and marginalized communities, and tackles structural racism head-on.”

By Andrea Dresdale
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