ABC/Randy HolmesElton John paid a visit to U.S. Congress Wednesday to urge the government to support legislation that could help in the fight against HIV and AIDS. According to The Hill, the British music legend was part of a panel that addressed a Senate appropriations subcommittee focused on the U.S.’s global health programs.

“This Congress indeed has the power to end AIDS,” John said. “I am here today to ask you to use that power.”

During his speech, Elton commended initiatives like the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program launched in 2008 by the George W. Bush administration that he says has helped slow the spread of the disease. John maintained, however, that the U.S. government needs to continue supporting such programs.

“There is a window of opportunity before us — a window through which we can very clearly see the end of AIDS — within my lifetime,” said Elton. “We cannot afford to let that window close.”

John also contended that the U.S. and other countries need to focus on helping protect people with AIDS, particular those who are gay, from discrimination and violence. He noted that in certain African countries and other nations, “the LGBT community [is] suffering under Draconian laws — people saying homosexuality is a sin, they’re making the disease worse.”

Elton said that even in areas of the U.S., such a rural South, young gay people are facing similar stigmatization.

John’s appearance in Washington, D.C., came a day after the Republican congress passed a budget that could result in the cutting of billions of dollars from federal programs. He stressed that taking away funding from PEPFAR could hamper the fight against AIDS.

“If they do [make cuts to PEPFAR], it’s going to be a complete disaster,” he said. “We’re going to go back to square one.”

John was invited to speak at the event by two senators — Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, and Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont. Graham and Leahy also hosted a reception in Elton’s honor the previous night.

Graham also revealed during the hearing that U2‘s Bono had planned on taking part in the event, but wasn’t able to attend.

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