In a statement released in honor of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, David Furnish, chairman of the Elton John AIDS Foundation said, “Although we have made significant progress in the fight to end AIDS, the fact remains that racism and discrimination are impeding that progress in black communities."
Furnish called the fact that black Americans are eight times more likely to become HIV-positive than white Americans, "unconscionable."
He blamed "ongoing disenfranchisement of African Americans" for putting the black community in the cross hairs of HIV, pointing out that the virus spreads more quickly in communities where "poverty and homelessness are rampant, and education and healthcare are scarce."
"This is especially true in the South," Furnish explained. " Where HIV/AIDS rates are among the highest in the nation, and where, not coincidentally, governors refuse to expand access to healthcare through the Affordable Care Act. These governors are denying millions of people life-saving care, and ignoring what works: when more people have access to prevention and treatment, fewer people get infected."
The Elton John AIDS Foundation invests millions of dollars each year to increase access to healthcare in the South and reduce the impact of HIV on the African-American community.
"But as with progress on any front," Furnish concluded, "if we are going to end AIDS in our lifetime, we all must do more to prove that black lives matter.”