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Sir Elton John to MPs: Next election winner can help eradicate AIDS by 2030 | Politics News

The winner of the next general election can help the UK eradicate AIDS worldwide by the end of the decade, Sir Elton John has told MPs.

The singer spoke to a cross-party blend of politicians in Westminster after the government announced an increase in opt-out testing for HIV at accident and emergency departments in all high prevalence areas for the virus in England.

Some 46 more A&Es will employ the testing, up from the existing 34 that were taking part in a trial – which also screens for viruses like hepatitis B and C.

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Since April last year, around 4,000 people with HIV have been identified through the scheme after more than 1.4 million samples were tested.

It is thought more than 4,500 people are living in England with HIV but are not aware.

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“Automatic testing gets to people earlier, which means less HIV transmission, less illness, less death and by the estimate of health economists, £50m saved for the NHS,” Sir Elton said.

“So, to hear today from the secretary of state that this work will be expanded to every high HIV prevalence area… 46 new accident and emergency departments in local hospitals across England… more than doubling the number of HIV tests, is truly wonderful news.”

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He continued: “Whoever wins the next general election can help to end AIDS worldwide by 2030.

“Starting right here at home. In the UK, new HIV diagnoses are down 46% since their peak in 2015.

“We can be the first country in the world to defeat this awful virus. Playing our part, fulfilling the United Nations goal and showing other nations how it’s done.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 29: Sir Keir Starmer, Leader of The Labour Party, and Sir Elton John attend a reception honouring Sir Elton John hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on HIV/AIDS at Speakers House in recognition of his enduring commitment to ending the AIDS epidemic, both personally and through the work of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, on November 29, 2023 in London, England. ..Photo by Dave Benett
Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer with Sir Elton. Pic: Dave Benett

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 29: Victoria Atkins, Secretary of State for Health, and Sir Elton John attend a reception honouring Sir Elton John hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on HIV/AIDS at Speakers House in recognition of his enduring commitment to ending the AIDS epidemic, both personally and through the work of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, on November 29, 2023 in London, England. ..Photo by Dave Benett
Health Secretary Victoria Atkins with Sir Elton. Pic: Dave Benett

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, said: “It is an honour to host this reception for Elton John in recognition of his work to end HIV and AIDS.

“Sir Elton has been an unwavering advocate in the fight against HIV and AIDS for four decades. His efforts have helped destigmatize the disease, promote education, and provide crucial support to those affected, making him a true champion in the goal to end AIDS.”

Florence Eshalomi MP, co-chair of the all party parliamentary group on HIV/AIDS, said: “We are delighted that the government today has taken concrete steps to increase and normalise HIV testing in the UK.

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“The APPG believes that as parliamentarians, we should play our part in addressing this epidemic and this is something we have been calling for following the successful roll-out of opt-out to extremely high prevalence areas.

“We also echo Elton John’s comments that whilst this will have a very real and significant impact, there is still a huge amount that needs to be done to end the AIDS epidemic both here in the UK and abroad.”

England World Cup winner George Cohen dies aged 83 | UK News

England’s World Cup-winning right-back George Cohen has died aged 83.

The footballer played every minute of England’s World Cup-winning 1966 campaign, including the final against West Germany.

He won 37 caps for England across his footballing career, the entirety of which he spent playing for Fulham.

The club wrote on their website: “Everyone at Fulham Football Club is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of our greatest ever players – and gentlemen – George Cohen MBE.”

Fellow World Cup winner Sir Geoff Hurst led tributes, posting in a tweet: “Very sad to hear my friend and England teammate George Cohen has died.

“Everyone, without exception, always said that George was such a lovely man.

“He will be sadly missed, my heartfelt thoughts are with George’s wife Daphne and his family.”

Grew up a mile from Fulham

Born in Kensington, west London, in 1939, Cohen joined his local side Fulham, whose stadium, Craven Cottage, was just over a mile from his home.

Initially working as a member of the grounds staff, he signed a professional contract in 1956 and made his debut against Liverpool as a 17-year-old in March 1957.

He went on to make 459 appearances for the club, scoring six goals, before retiring at the age of 29 due to a serious knee injury.

In the run-up to the 1966 World Cup, Cohen was battling with Blackpool’s Jimmy Armfield, at the time England’s captain, for a starting spot.

But an injury to Armfield in the lead-up to the competition allowed Cohen to cement his place in Sir Alf Ramsey’s side.

England's George Cohen (l) Looks On As Captain Bobby Moore (r) Kisses The Jules Rimet Trophy After England Won The 1966 World Cup Final Beating Germany 4-2 At Wembley Stadium.
Cohen looks on as Bobby Moore kisses the World Cup trophy

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World Cup glory

Playing in his favoured right-back role, Cohen provided key overlapping runs in an England side that played narrow through the midfield and up to the two forwards.

He started at right-back in the 1966 final against West Germany at Wembley, helping the Three Lions to a 4-2 extra-time victory – England’s only World Cup win.

He played seven more times for England, making his final appearance in November 1967 in a win against Northern Ireland.

File photo dated 18-05-2016 of George Cohen who has died aged 83. Issue date: Friday December 23, 2022.

‘Best full-back I’ve ever played against’

An attacking right-back with the pace, strength and stamina to get up and down the pitch, Cohen was hailed as “the best full-back I ever played against” by the supremely talented Manchester United winger George Best.

He was awarded an MBE in 2000 alongside Roger Hunt, Alan Ball, Ray Wilson and Nobby Stiles after a campaign to honour the England stars who had not initially received awards for their 1966 heroics.

Cohen’s death means Sir Geoff Hurst and Sir Bobby Charlton are now the only two of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning starting XI still living, alongside squad players George Eastham, Terry Paine and Ian Callaghan.

In 2016, a statue was erected outside Craven Cottage to honour Cohen on the 50th anniversary of England’s World Cup win.

Inscribed below the statue are the words: “Fulham player. World Cup winner. Gentleman.”

‘Fulham royalty’

Cohen finished his career as Fulham’s fourth-highest appearance-maker, after Johnny Haynes, Eddie Lowe and Les Barrett.

Speaking at the time of the statue’s unveiling, Cohen said: “I mean, to think that they had made a statue; I find it absolutely wonderful that they even thought I was worthy of it.

H.M. Queen Elizabeth II shakes hands with England's George Cohen
The Queen shakes hands with Cohen

“Especially as it was alongside Johnny Haynes, the greatest name in Fulham’s history.

“To be alongside him, it was rather unbelievable. It was great to think that not only the Club, but the supporters had wanted to put a statue of me there.”

In later life, Cohen, who was awarded the Freedom of Hammersmith and Fulham for his World Cup heroics, campaigned for research into cancer and dementia.

George Cohen

He was a father of two who was married to his wife, Daphne, for more than 60 years.

Cohen was also the uncle of rugby star Ben Cohen, who won the 2003 Rugby World Cup with England.

Paying tribute to Cohen, his club wrote: “He is, quite simply, Fulham royalty.

“All of our thoughts are with Daphne, his beloved wife of more than 60 years, sons Anthony and Andrew, his grandchildren and extended family, as well as George’s many, many friends.”