Gay singer Elton John is to headline a concert in Indiana, US, for a teenager who died of AIDS after receiving a contaminated blood transfusion.
The April 28th event will be held in honour of Ryan White, who died aged 18 in 1990. He was diagnosed with AIDS at the age of 13, after receiving treatment for haemophilia.
He became a national celebrity and spokesperson for those living with the disease after being expelled from school for his illness.
White was credited with changing perceptions of HIV/AIDS and his mother Jeanne White-Ginder continues to advocate for AIDS care.
John has spoken in the past about how becoming friends with White helped him get off drugs. He sang at White’s funeral.
He told Parade magazine: “Every time I stopped taking drugs, after a period of time I’d go back. It got worse and worse… What finally opened my eyes was Ryan White.
“I read in a magazine that Ryan was not allowed to go to school because he had AIDS. Firebombs were being put in his family’s letter box. I was enraged. I helped the White family move. I spent the last week of Ryan’s life in 1990 with him in an Indianapolis hospital.
“There was something wonderful in this family – they were losing their son, yet they were still able to forgive the hatred of others. I thought, ‘Look at me. I have everything I want, and I complain about a hotel room because I don’t like the wallpaper? What happened to me? I was a nice, decent boy, and now I’m a self-obsessed drug addict.’ So I got sober.”
The concert will be held at the Butler University. Funds raised will go to Indianapolis Children’s Museum and John’s AIDS Foundation.