Elton John, a 75-year-old legendary British singer, was traveling with a group of US senators to South Africa to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR.
In order to stop the spread of AIDS in some of the most severely affected regions of Africa and the Caribbean, then-US president George W. Bush established PEPFAR in February 2003.
With a $15 billion initial budget over its first five years, PEPFAR has since invested more than $100 billion in HIV-AIDS programs and helped save millions of lives across the globe in dozens of nations.
Republican Graham expressed the hope that his fellow Republicans would concur that maintaining funding for the program is “the right thing to do, it’s smart for national security, and it would be devastating for this disease to return economically.”
Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat, stood on either side of him.
The PEPFAR program, which is funded by Elton John’s foundation, has “turned a death sentence into an opportunity to live a normal life,” according to Elton John.
He compared PEPFAR to a “turbo engine in a very old car” that offered a great deal of hope. He claimed that the world would have been “a terrible mess” without PEPFAR.
The disease “to be finished by 2030 so we can all live… an AIDS-free life,” according to Elton John, is his “dying wish.”
According to John Nkengasong, the Global AIDS Coordinator for the US State Department, PEPFAR has helped save 25 million lives and increased life expectancy by 12 to 15 years.
He claimed that PEPFAR demonstrated how “good politics and good public health practices save millions of lives.”
South Africa has the highest number of HIV-positive individuals on Earth with more than 8.2 million, and more than 5.4 million of these individuals are taking antiretroviral medications.