Honored for his efforts to help those living with AIDS and HIV, Elton John said he was fortunate not to have contracted the disease. “As a gay man I’m very lucky not to be infected,” he told ITV News Wednesday. “My concern nowadays is that young people think they are invulnerable, but they’re not.”
John was interviewed after the U.K. Coalition of People Living with HIV and AIDS gave him its Hero Award Wednesday night. The honor acknowledged his contributions to the fight against HIV and AIDS through the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
“I accept the Hero Award with gratitude, but more importantly in the acknowledgment of the 30,000 positive people here in the U.K. today,” he said at the London ceremony.
John said he’d decided to get involved in fighting the disease after the 1990 death of 18-year-old Ryan White in Indiana.
“It was a time in my life when I wasn’t behaving very well,” the musician said. “I played at his funeral and I looked like a 90-year-old man. That was when I decided to clean up my act.”