July 23 - Musician Elton John called for compassion for people with HIV-AIDS at a massive conference about the disease in Washington. Deborah Gembara reports.
In Washington, a patchwork of quilts was on display on the National Mall --- each one commemorating someone who had died of AIDs. The event, billed as the world's largest AIDS conference drew figures from the world of entertainment and politics. Musician Elton John told crowds that statistically he should have contracted the disease, that he failed to take precautions. SOUNDBITE: Musician Elton John saying: "Ladies and gentlemen by all rights I shouldn't be here today. I should be dead. Six feet under in a wooden box. I should have contracted HIV in the 1980s and died in the 1990s. In the event's keynote address, he also called on people to stop marginalizing those with HIV-AIDS. SOUNDBITE: Musician Elton John saying: "It's killing people all over the world right now. We have to stop it. We have to replace the shame with love. We have to replace the stigma with compassion. No-one should be left behind. That is how we will end the plague." The U.S. also chose the event to announce a more than $150 million spending initiative aimed at combatting the disease. SOUNDBITE: U.S. Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton saying: "I've heard a few voices from people raising questions about America's commitment to and Aids free generation, wondering whether we are really serious about achieving it. Well. I am here today to make it absolutely clear the United States is committed and will remain committed to achieving an AIDS-free generation. We will not back off, we will not back down, we will fight for the resources necessary to achieve this historic milestone. " The event also marks the first time the U.S. has hosted the event in more than two decades. Deborah Gembara, Reuters.