The Star Early Edition - - HEALTH - NABEE­LAH SHAIKH

SING­ING leg­end Sir El­ton John and his part­ner Cana­dian film-maker, David Furnish, have raised about R50 mil­lion to build a new HIV unit at the KwaZulu-Na­tal Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal.

The cou­ple held a fundraiser at Old Wind­sor in the UK and part­nered with in­ter­na­tional jew­ellery brand Bvl­gari for the event ,which formed part of the El­ton John Aids Foun­da­tion.

The hospi­tal was iden­ti­fied last year when Sir John at­tended the In­ter­na­tional Aids Con­fer­ence in Durban.

The fundrais­ing will go to­wards com­bat­ing Aids among 13 to15-year-olds in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa with the cre­ation of a HIV unit within the Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal, due to open later this year.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive of the hospi­tal trust, Dr Arthi Ramkissoon, ex­pressed his grat­i­tude for the ef­forts of John and Furnish. “We hope that hav­ing fig­ures like these as­so­ci­ated with the new unit would bring more spon­sors into the project,” said Ramkissoon.

Sir John told The Star’s sis­ter pa­per, the Sun­day Tri­bune, that he wanted to help cre­ate an Aids-free fu­ture.

“We’re not go­ing to achieve that if Aids re­mains the lead­ing cause of death for 10 to19year-olds in Africa.”

He said South Africa was cho­sen be­cause of the large num­ber of young peo­ple liv­ing with HIV/Aids. “My foun­da­tion doesn’t gen­er­ally fund cap­i­tal projects like this. But we all felt there was a real op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate a bea­con of ex­cel­lence with this project.”

A reg­u­lar vis­i­tor to the coun­try, he said he hoped to re­turn once the cen­tre is up and run­ning.

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