Sir Elton John and Queer Eye grooming expert Jonathan Van Ness talk about living with HIV/AIDS and the fight to find a cure on the latest installment of Instagram’s Advocates series.
“I’m in a fortunate position to try and do as much as I can, and I will do until the day I die,” John, who founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1993, explains. “I will be fighting for people’s rights. And that’s the least I can do because I’ve been so lucky in my life.”
In 2019, Van Ness revealed to the world that he is living with HIV, and has since gone on to become a vocal advocate about the virus, treatment, as well as affiliated healthcare issues. In his conversation with John, he discussesthe issues of stigma and acceptance that need to be resolved.
“I wish that most people knew that they probably do know somebody who was living with HIV/AIDS who just doesn’t talk about it because there is shame and stigma attached to it,” Van Ness says. He went on to reveal that he was initially fearful of revealing he was living with HIV because he didn’t want his “whole career to be necessarily defined by it.”
"Now I'm like, let's define it as this because I want to help," Van Ness says.
As for John, he stressed the importance of continued support for people in need and to enable further scientific advances. He also spoke to how bureaucracy can serve as a hinderance to treatment.
"If you're not affluent there's so much bureaucracy that you have to go through," he said. "A lot of people will get so fed up with the bureaucracy they'll give up. Listen, we're nearly there, we can't afford to take our pedal off the accelerator. We've come so far in so short a time scienticially; to think that we could end this disease within 35 years or the first 40 years of it starting is amazing."
Noting there’s a “big battle to be won,” John observes “you just have to give back all the time.”