Sir Elton John Says British Government Should Be ‘Ashamed’ of AIDS Spending Levels
Pop star Sir Elton John yesterday said that the British government should be "thoroughly ashamed" of its efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, particularly of its spending on National Health System HIV/AIDS initiatives, the Guardian reports. During an interview with the United Kingdom's Sky News at an AIDS gala in Vienna, Austria, John -- whose Elton John AIDS Foundation has given more than $35 million to HIV/AIDS causes -- said he was "disgusted with the way the health service is operating" under Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour government (Meikle, Guardian, 5/21). "When we [in the United Kingdom] started, we had a good record on AIDS. Now that record is not as good as it was under the Thatcher government," John said. Addressing Blair, John added, "You should be ashamed of yourself, you're a socialist, or supposed to be. Get your act together ... it's a disgrace" (Sky News, 5/20). In response to John's comments, the Department of Health pointed out that NHS spending has increased every year under Blair. HIV/AIDS activists in the United Kingdom are concerned about the spending because the government no longer earmarks separate HIV/AIDS funding but administers the funds as part of the main NHS budget, letting local primary care trusts make the decisions on how the funds are allocated. Derek Bodell, CEO of the National AIDS Trust, said that it is imperative that the funds be targeted at those at greatest risk, such as gay men, people "with links to African countries" and intravenous drug users. He added, "With the mainstreaming of HIV services, we are losing this ability to track and ultimately evaluate the effectiveness of government spending" (Guardian, 5/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.