Sir Elton John: Donald Trump could be the President to end HIV/AIDS
Sir Elton John has said that Donald Trump could be the President to end HIV/AIDS – if he put effort into it.
The Elton John AIDS Foundation founder, who has led work on HIV/AIDS for decades, spoke to Channel 4 News about the President’s actions on the issue.
Activists in the US have expressed alarm after the President shuttered the White House Office of National AIDS Policy and dismissed all the members of the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.
The leader’s spending plans have also proposed cuts to budget for the US government’s international HIV/AIDS programme, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), while his Department of Health and Human Services has proposed draining money from HIV treatment programmes in order to fund migrant detention.
But Sir Elton says he is withholding judgment on Trump’s record, noting that no cuts to HIV/AIDS spending have so far been approved by Congress, where spending on HIV/AIDS has been largely supported by both parties for more than a decade..
He said: “If you go to Congress, it’s a truly bipartisan thing – the only thing that’s bipartisan. It’s brought so many wonderful things for people who thought they were going to die globally.
“President Trump has the ability to say, ‘I want to keep PEPFAR going and I want to be the President that ended AIDS.’
“If he said that I would back him up to the hilt – I don’t care what he calls it, he can call it TRUMPFAR and do whatever he wants, but he has the ability to say, ‘it was my Republican predecessor President George Bush who instigated PEPFAR as a bipartisan thing, then the Obamas continued it for eight years.’
“He has the ability to say, ‘it will continue and I have the ability to become the President that ended AIDS’.”
His husband David Furnish added: “He hasn’t cut anything [yet]. There’s definitely issues in terms of the national department that exists within Washington, and we’re watching and waiting.
“When we see genuine things happen that will set us back, we are standing by, but there’s so much criticism flying around right now, until there’s something tangible that we can put our finger on and say ‘look, we have the experience, we’ve been doing this for 25 years and this change that you’re making is going to set us back’.”
Sir Elton added: “If it comes to having a dialogue with him, then I’ll have a dialogue with him. He comes to my shows all the time.”
Trump once joked about coercively giving an HIV test to Princess Diana, who was a close personal friend of Sir Elton.
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In an interview with Trump days after the death of Princess, radio shock jock Howard Stern had asked him: “Why do people think it’s egotistical of you to say you could’ve gotten with Lady Di?
“You could’ve gotten her, right? You could’ve nailed her.”
Trump replied: “I think I could have.
“Come back over to my Lexington Avenue doctor. We wanna give you a little checkup.”
He added: “She was crazy, but you know these are minor details.”