John, founder of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, addressed an audience that included CEOs of organizations working to develop HIV/AIDS therapies and vaccines. He called on governments and institutions to increase their focus on education, especially among young people; access to medical treatment; and needle-exchange programs (Poole, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/19).
"There are long-standing stereotypes and prejudices that inhibit our efforts to combat AIDS," John said, adding, "I am asking for your leadership." According to John, CDC estimates that one in every three new HIV cases occurs among people younger than age 30, a statistic that he said has not received adequate attention. "It is unfathomable and unconscionable that we are not making a bigger effort to educate this demographic about HIV/AIDS with creative materials and up-to-date information," John said, adding, "Our failure to do so is costing lives" (Turner, AP/PennLive.com, 5/19).
John also noted a recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which found that the number of Americans who believe HIV/AIDS is an urgent health problem has declined to 6% currently from 44% in 1995. Bob McNally, CEO of GeoVax Labs, said John's message is that "just not enough is being done" and that "people continue to die from the disease." He added that John "spurred the audience towards being advocates" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/20).