The Elton John AIDS Foundation turns twenty this year. While I never dreamt the Foundation would live to be 20, this is one birthday that I'm going to shout about from the rooftops.
In twenty years, we've seen AIDS go from a little known 'gay plague' to a worldwide epidemic, claiming millions of lives - more than any war or disease - to now, a moment in the world, when thanks to so many who have worked for so long, we are able to truly contemplate the end of AIDS.
We can beat AIDS. Who knew I would ever write those words?
As we begin our 20th year, the Foundation's goal is to enable all those who need it to access HIV testing and treatment. But our highest priority is wiping out the greatest symptom of HIV - stigma. Because while brilliant scientists and amazing projects are building remarkable resistance to the physical and socio-economic effects of the disease, there's little they can do about its biggest symptom: shame. Shame still drives the HIV epidemic into the shadows, isolating those most in need and most at risk.
The cure for the shame of HIV actually lies in all of us: compassion.
But how we do we raise that? How do we eradicate feelings of 'that would never happen to me' and replace them with the conviction that only when no one is left behind, when everyone is worthy of love and support, can we really, finally end AIDS.
It's a question we've been asking ourselves here as we turn 20, and we've finally found the answer. One, typically, that's been right under our noses all along, but that feels so right as we come of age - creativity. It's what drives everything we do, from working with projects to unlock opportunities to save lives, to raising funds through the talents of artists, designers, writers and performers. It has fuelled our work across Europe, Africa and Asia and helped us reach over 4 million people of all ages and backgrounds with what they needed most.
This year more than ever we will be working with all our creative partners to make an AIDS free future. I urge you to support us by coming to an event, making a donation, writing, tweeting, texting your personal sense of compassion and following our progress.
With your help, we can create an AIDS free future.
Love and thanks,