Love and compassion is what the world needs to help eliminate HIV and AIDS, Sir Elton John said Monday.
The music legend visited the AIDS Memorial Quilt on the National Mall then delivered the keynote speech at the International AIDS Conference.
"We have miraculous treatments that double as prevention, but we can't get those living with HIV on treatment if they are afraid to disclose their status because of stigma or homophobia," John said.
John said eliminating the stigma is key to eliminating the disease.
"I hope and pray that we will all discover a vaccine," he said. "We all do. But we won't get the vaccine we need if governments shun their most marginalized citizens."
"Millions of people around the world feel ashamed because of who they are. I felt ashamed when I was a drug addict," John said, adding a personal message. "Shame and stigma prevents [those with HIV] from getting help, from getting treatment, from protecting themselves in the first place. I felt that shame before. It almost killed me. It's killing people all over the world right now, and we have to stop it."
Elton John has been involved with HIV/AIDS awareness for several decades. He founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992 and a charity with the same name in the UK. Together the organizations have raised more than $275 million in support of projects worldwide, according to their site.