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Elton John: ‘Gordon Brown doesn’t understand AIDS problem’

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  1. If Brown’s understanding of AIDS and HIV infections is as strong as his grasp on basic economics the Elton John is right to be concerned.

  2. Benji Starr 15 Dec 2009, 1:12pm

    Umm, just a pedantic little point, but unless they reside in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, they wouldn’t be voting for Gordon Brown anyway. And last time I checked, Gordon Brown wasn’t the health minister, so he can’t form policy on health pandemics like HIV.

    I do agree that there needs to be a better and more direct response to the rise in HIV infections. Its not gone away, and its still incurable and its still killing people, and everyone needs to be aware, and remain aware of that.

  3. What this shows is that Elton John doesn’t grasp the basics of HIV epidemiology.
    HIV prevalence is increasing. There are a number of reasons for this, one of the most important being the increased survival of people with HIV thanks to antiretroviral drugs, and I’ve no doubt Elton John would welcome this.
    Many of the cases of HIV being diagnosed are historic, representing long-term infections. And the more infections we diagnose the better as this will have both individual and public health benefits.
    Significant numbers of infections are also due to migration.
    There are still large numbers of new HIV, or incident infections in the UK – but far from increasing, these are stable.
    And it’s futile to compare the effectiveness of prevention campaigns in the 1980s to those conducted now. Ther epidemic was then in its infancy, its modes of transmission weren’t properly understood, and HIV was invariably fatal.
    It should also be pointed out that there were large numbers of new HIV infections at this time, and a significant proportion of gay men reported taking sexual health risks.
    Realistically, until we have an effective bio-medical method of prevent there isn’t much more that can be done to reduce incident infections in gay men.
    And before condemning Gordon Brown’s HIV failures, Elton should have remembered that the PM has long campaigned for the provision of HIV treatment in Africa, and the UK government is one of the biggest international donors for HIV programmes. Unlike the US, there are no ‘moral’ strings attached to our fundin

  4. The Grinch 15 Dec 2009, 1:45pm

    Whenever I have the urge to have unsafe sex, I whip out a picture of Elton and David that I carry in my wallet and instantly lose all sexual desire, retiring promptly for a cup of tea and a hobknob.

  5. Ford Hickson 15 Dec 2009, 1:55pm

    – “People were more aware of the disease because of the uncompromising advertising campaign that [Margaret Thatcher's] government ran,” he added. –

    What a strange re-writing of history this is. The first time Thatcher referred to AIDS in public was January 1986, by which time a total of 378 people had died with AIDS in the UK. The country had been living with a tabloid feeding frenzy of unprecedented homophobic viciousness for over two years. Thatcher just sat back and watched. Thatcher’s advertising campaign wasn’t uncompromising awareness raising becasue no gay man was unaware of AIDS by the time the Government got their arse in gear. Just about every gay man in the country felt that the Tory Government did too little, too late. Everyone recognised that the Government only acted when it thought ‘normal people’ were getting AIDS. Instead of caring about gays they were busy persecuting us. While the Tory’s were cooking up ‘AIDS: Don’t Die of Ignorance’, they were also condoning police raids on Gays The Word (removing safer sex literature as obscene) and plotting the introduction of Section 28.

    This rewriting is an outrage of history and an insult to all of us whose suffering under AIDS in the 1980s was made so much worse by the Media and the Government.

  6. Ryan Haynes 15 Dec 2009, 3:56pm

    This is just another story regarding the debacle of the HIV prevention campaign. Did you see the stories criticising HIV organisations of their pansy like campaigns?

    Thank god someone in a position of influence is speaking out – it’s taken a while but this is much needed!

  7. roland chesters 15 Dec 2009, 4:07pm

    As a gay man who has been openly living with AIDS for 3 years I continue to be horrified by the degree of complacency, compounded by ignorance, in which this condition is held. When I tell people of my situation so often the response is “yes but all you need to do is take a tablet a day and you are fine”. The reality is so much different. The truth of living with AIDS would take more space than is offered here. Elton is right. If AIDS doesn’t kill you, then complacency will.

  8. Ford Hickson at #5 wrote: “Everyone recognised that the Government only acted when it thought ‘normal people’ were getting AIDS. Instead of caring about gays they were busy persecuting us. While the Tory’s were cooking up ‘AIDS: Don’t Die of Ignorance’, they were also condoning police raids on Gays The Word (removing safer sex literature as obscene) and plotting the introduction of Section 28.”

    ABSOLUTELY TRUE! And well said, Ford!

    Elton John is doing well in calling for more effective HIV-prevention campaigns, but his recall of history is certainly awry.

    I remember that at that time, back in the mid-80s, I addressed a sizeable public group on the urgency of the AIDS problem and a female Tory minister of religion got to her feet and actually said to all of the assembled something like, “There IS no great problem! AIDS is only affecting homosexuals! It is not affecting normal people!”

    What she uttered was exactly what Tory voters of that time were thinking, what Thatcher was thinking, and what her party was thinking, and it explains why it took them so long to take action.

    Yes, Ford, Elton John’s erroneous recall of history is OUTRAGEOUS . . . although his heart IS in the right place.

  9. Patrick James 15 Dec 2009, 11:12pm

    As a Labour party guy I’m delighted that Elton John has raised this issue.

    It is important that the government grasps fully the importance of HIV/AIDS prevention.

  10. http://www.houseofnumbers.com – new AIDS documentary exposing the truth

  11. Obmode (10) House of Numbers does not expose the truth, it trotts out the same AIDS deniers conspiracy theory nonsense that hasn’t changed since it first appeared 20 odd years ago. It’s funny how they conveniently forget about some of the ‘evidence’ they have used in the past, now that research has proven that particular part of the conspiracy wrong, whichever part it is.

    The film is also somewhat liberal with the facts, waiting until the end of the film to inform viewers that the mother had died, apparently of an HIV related condition.

    This nonsense is killing people unnecessarily.

  12. Well done Elton for exposing the breadth and subterfuge of New Labour’s interference in the UK’s HIV prevention policy aimed at gay men, which Pink News itself reported back in August in the comment article headlined ‘Killing Us Softly’:

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-13675.html/

    To quote:

    “Since 1999 recorded HIV transmissions between men have doubled; from 1,450 to 2,830 cases a year. During that time, gay men’s sexual health charities hungry for funding forged closer links to government statutory bodies and began slavishly following their diktats and directives to secure taxpayers’ cash. As one sexual health worker told GT in 2007: “We have been working to NHS specifications since 2001. Consequently, the impassioned, no-nonsense strategies that once defined the sector’s HIV prevention efforts were superseded by a lumbering, bureaucratic, performance management-led approach which responds more quickly and efficiently to the market forces created by the needs of rising numbers of HIV-infected people than to providing timely and appropriate community responses efficiently targeted at those still at risk of contracting the virus…”

    How interesting that since that article appeared, a chorus call of eminent voices have spoken out against the atrocious failure of today’s HIV campaigns; Elton being merely the latest among them. Killing Us Softly was then backed up by an independent survey conducted at Soho Live in September that found that only 4% of respondents agree with today’s softly softly HIV campaigns whereas most want to see an immediate return to hard hitting campaigns that tell the truth about the realities of living, and dying, with HIV. More damagingly, it found that over a quarter of all gay men – and a third of young gays aged 25 and under – regard HIV to be no more serious than any other sexually transmitted disease; a grotesque betrayal of the trust we place within such organisations to educate us effectively and truthfully about major threats to our health.

    Yes, New Labour’s insane pursuit of political correctness at all costs – in tow with its appointed cronies within the HIV quango sector (oops sorry, HIV charity sector) – is to blame, no question about that. Yet another damning indictment against their systemic incompetence, and the sooner they are all driven from power come June the better for the collective health and well-being of gay men.

  13. Obmode, NO, the trashy documentary called “House of Numbers” does not expose the truth, it is instead a deceitful fabrication of lies.

    For the truth about “House of Numbers” see:
    http://www.houseofnumbers.org/InsideHoNHome_Page.html

    For the truth about all deluded AIDS-Denialists see:
    http://www.aidstruth.org/

  14. Ford Hickson should get over his persecution complex and declare his real interest in this debate. He is one of the main academics behind Sigma, which is affiliated with the CHAPs network of HIV charities at whom Elton’s comments are indirectly aimed. Sigma has shown itself to be aligned only with the PC doctrines emanating from central Government which have sought to normalise HIV and make all judgmental criticism of this dreadful disease anathema. Not surprising really since his job depends on it. To set the record straight as somebody who remembers the Eighties well, it was the media that whipped up a furore of gay hate stories around this new “plague” which no one knew anything about, least of all the long term consequences. The Tories acted sensibly in pitching campaigns around tombstones because, at the time, HIV was a killer disease. It remains a killer disease today, only now we have the advancement of drugs that delay the onset of full-blown Aids but which themselves are highly toxic and, over time, riddle the body with a host of unpleasant symptoms which may end up killing you before the eventual onset of full-blown Aids itself. The likes of Hickson cowardly scream “tombstones” whenever gay men demand the return of harder-hitting campaigns in order to justify not running them. But of course harder hitting need only mean actually being honest about the devastating consequences of contracting the HIV virus as a means of encouraging gay men to always play safe. Today’s HIV campaigns are interchangeable with all other STD campaigns because they only tell you how best to avoid becoming infected, not WHY you should avoid becoming infected. No wonder so many youngsters today see HIV as being no more serious than a dose of the crabs. Ford Hickson and his coterie of HIV “charities” have betrayed a generation of gay men with their indifference and ineptitude, and it is sincerely hoped that the incoming Tory Government packs them all off to the nearest Job Centre.

  15. William, what a load of undeserved diatribe against what Ford Hickson has written earlier. What is your agenda?

    Ford Hickson stated absolutely truthfully that the Tories took ages to do anything about the AIDS situation in the early 80s and that this was largely because they perceived it as “just” being a gay men’s problem. They didn’t give a damn about gay men dying. That is what Ford Hickson said above. And he is absolutely right in stating so.

  16. Elton is simply saying we need a return to harder hitting campaigns to counter the campaigns of recent years which have incentivised more than they have discouraged the uptake of unsafe sex. The HIV charities have proven a disaster at preventing the spread of the virus, preoccupied as they have been with molly coddling HIV-ers and protecting their feelings at all costs while turning a blind eye to the mushroom cloud of infections they have left in their wake. Their remit to handle any form of HIV prevention should be revoked forthwith and handed to others who mean business.

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