Elton John marked his World AIDS Day edition of the Independent with a cover by one of his favourite artists.

The cover, of a rose, is a specially-commissioned piece of art by British painter Gary Hume.

Hume said the rose showed the transience of life in the AIDS epidemic: “I chose a rose because it’s a beautiful thing, that blooms and then dies.”

All circulation revenue of today’s Independent and i will go to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

The star called on a number of his famous friends to write for the edition, which the Independent said was also a “multi-faceted reflection of a diverse and engaging personality”.

In today’s paper, former US president Bill Clinton argues that countries need to find new ways to fund AIDS efforts in the financial downturn, Cherie Booth says that HIV-positive people must not be prosecuted and Stephen Fry writes that initiatives such as the Elton John AIDS Foundation should not be seen as ” rock star vanity projects”.

An Independent editorial said that the edition was not just about AIDS but “reflects Elton John’s wider interests” with an interview by Jimmy Carr and articles on film, football and the music industry.

In the editor’s letter, John wrote: “This is a day of firsts for me. It’s the first time I’ve had the privilege of editing a newspaper… it’s the first time I’ve switched on a computer, and it’s definitely the first time I’ve been able to say ‘hold the front page’ and people listened.

“Actually, there was no need to hold the front page. As you can see, it’s a specially commissioned art work by one of my heroes, Gary Hume, to mark World AIDS Day. The picture depicts flowers, symbolic of something which flourishes and then dies: I think it’s a powerful statement about the struggle against AIDS.

“You will find other pieces in today’s paper which highlight the good news as well as the grim reality of this global pandemic. You have done your bit already by buying this paper, because all the proceeds are going to my foundation, which has 1,200 projects across 55 countries to help people with AIDS.

“It’s been a proud achievement to spend a day in the editor’s chair, right up there with playing gigs in all 52 states of America. I hope by the time you’ve finished reading today’s paper you’ll be better educated about AIDS, and maybe we’ll have been able to entertain you along the way.”