Elton John Talks Stigma, Challenges at AIDS Foundation Gala

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Elton John (left) and husband David Furnish

"We have the medicine to make this disease go away — we just have to make the stigma go away and pull people together as a human entity," the legendary musician told a star-studded NYC crowd on Tuesday.

The Elton John AIDS Foundation commemorated its 25th anniversary on Tuesday night by inviting a star-studded crowd in New York City to celebrate the founder’s achievements as a philanthropist and humanitarian.

In attendance were host Neil Patrick Harris, musical guest Aretha Franklin, former President Bill Clinton, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Sharon Stone, with the latter giving tributes.

Although John has accepted many awards on behalf of his foundation, this night marked a special occasion — and after a 25-year commitment to ending AIDS, he still admits he’s not the best at accepting praise.

“I’m not very good at receiving awards. There’s still so much work to be done — give me an award when it’s all over,” the legendary musical artist told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet before the event.

“I’m very proud of the foundation and what we achieve, how we work, how we raise money, how we spend it and how we don’t waste it. But hopefully in another 10 years, this will be over," John said. "We have the medicine to make this disease go away — we just have to make the stigma go away and pull people together as a human entity.”

To make the next 25 years even more successful than the first, John plans on continuing to do what the foundation does best: work together.

“When we started, it was two people around a kitchen table in Atlanta. I wanted it to become a great foundation, [and] we’ve appointed great people to run it, we’ve kept it small, we don’t have people driving cars, we keep our overheads at three percent, and we pay for everything. People give us money because they know it’s actually going to get out there — we don’t waste it,” said John. “It’s all about cooperation now. We all cooperate with each other, which is the way forward.”

The EJAF has raised more than $385 million since being founded in 1992.

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