Sir Elton John received HAI’s Leadership Award on October 15th. The award is presented to individuals who have exhibited extraordinary vision, leadership, and courage in the worldwide struggle against AIDS. Past recipients include tennis star Arthur Ashe, Diana, Princess of Wales, President Festus Mogae of Botswana, and President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria.
Since the creation of the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) in 1992, John has spoken out against stigma and advocated for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, especially those on the margins of society. EJAF has raised more than $300 million to combat stigma, prevent infections, provide treatment and services, and motivate governments to end AIDS.
John received the award at EJAF’s fall gala in New York City. Today Show host Matt Lauer hosted the event. Julio Frenk, Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, Max Essex, Chair of HAI, and Deeda Blair and Maurice Tempelsman, Co-Chairs of HAI’s International Advisory Council, presented the award to John.
“When I think of the extraordinary people who have received this honor before me, including my dear, dear friend Princess Diana, I am humbled to be counted among such august company. But I am also tremendously inspired by their courage, vision, generosity, dedication, and grace under fire,” said John upon receiving the award. “What I hope to add to their legacy is my own special brand of pig-headed stubbornness.”
As part of the evening’s program, John presented the EJAF Founder’s Award to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. In her remarks, Clinton praised Harvard’s leadership role in AIDS research. “I was delighted to hear that Harvard will begin the trials that we have been promoting and planning for very shortly,” she said, referring to the Ya Tsie project that was initiated through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) when Clinton was Secretary of State.