A celebrity gala, hosted by Sir Elton John, has raised over $6 million to help HIV testing in Kenya. The money raised will go toward providing 400,000 self-test kits to young men in the country.
The singer was taking a small break from his worldwide farewell tour, and he hosted the gala in Southern France.
Funds were primarily raised through an auction, which saw items like a luxury Bentley and a signed piano along with a Gucci jacket used in the filming of Rocketman sold. The latter lot reportedly sold together for one million Euros.
Among the guests were actress and author Dame Joan Collins; drag queen and DJ Jodie Harsh; Taron Egerton, who played Elton John in the biopic Rocketman; and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin; who sang Viva la Vida.
He also performed I’m Still Standing and Rocketman alongside Sir Elton.
Speaking to Reuters, Sir Elton said: “We’re here for the Elton John AIDS foundation, our first south of France fundraiser, hopefully to raise money for people who desperately need it in our fight against HIV and AIDS.
“The thing is for people to get tested, to know their status, not to be ashamed of it. It’s a very treatable disease.”
Sir Elton has always been outspoken about HIV and AIDs campaigning. Last year, at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, where he launched the MenStar Coalition – a group of organisations teaming up together in the fight against HIV/AIDS – he slammed the bigotry that hindered research.
“If there wasn’t this bigotry and hatred, then this disease could be eliminated far quicker than you could ever think,” Sir Elton said.
“Basically what it comes down to is that these countries are discriminating very badly against LGBT people. And it’s holding us back, and until we can get that … idea out of our heads that gay people are lesser, then I’m afraid we will still be sitting here in 20 years discussing the same thing.”