Saturday, February 16, 2013

Love is in My Blood

The Elton John AIDS Foundation is running a Valentine’s Day campaign promoting awareness, love and compassion in the fight against AIDS.

One of the great barriers to ending the global AIDS epidemic is still that of lack of human compassion. While new HIV infection rates have dropped by up to 50% in many countries over the last two years, and 8 million people living with HIV around the world are now on life-saving medical treatment, the HIV symptom we still struggle to overcome is shame.

This Valentine’s Day, the day of international love, Elton and a host of singers, artists, writers and sportspeople including Jessie J, Florence Welch, Ben Drew, Ai Weiwei, Elizabeth Hurley, Paulo Coelho, George Takei, Kelly Osborne, Lara Stone, Stephen Fry, David Walliams, Jamie Oliver and Shane Warne are showing their love by pricking their fingers, creating a spot of blood and tweeting the image accompanied by the words ‘Love Is In My Blood’.

Ever since the death of Ryan White, Elton has championed the rights of people living with HIV - today he repeats that message.

“Now more than ever we know how to beat AIDS,” says Elton. “Thanks to incredible work by the AIDS community over the past 20 years we now have affordable, quality treatment which saves lives and dramatically reduces the chances of passing on HIV. But these medicines don’t work against prejudice and discrimination. It’s time to stop treating people who are most vulnerable to HIV as outcasts. Everyone deserves the chance to protect themselves. Surely we have enough love for that.”
The EJAF/Twitter campaign is designed to create a global conversation; reminding the world that the fight against AIDS is winnable, but only if we have enough love and compassion to ensure that no one is shut out, left behind or made to feel ashamed.

Artist Ai Weiwei has created a film commercial inspired by the campaign. “The work is about love, about a need for all to be concerned with life,” he says. “When Elton asked me to create something for the Foundation, I wanted to contribute by finding an expression that raises awareness for this crisis among as many people as possible.”

A 30-second and 60-second version of Weiwei’s commercial – which features the words ‘Love is in OUR Blood’ over drops of blood and the sound of a heartbeat - will run simultaneously on Thursday 14 February on YouTube, and for 24 hours from the time people wake up on Valentine’s Day throughout the day until midnight on screens in Times Square, New York; Piccadilly Circus, London and Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, which has the largest AIDS epidemic in Europe.

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