- Associated Press - Monday, July 23, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) - Elton John says he should be dead because of his self-destructive lifestyle decades ago.

He told the International AIDS conference on Monday: “By all rights, I shouldn’t be here today.”

But, he said, people including strangers showed him compassion as he battled drug addiction and came to terms with his sexuality. He said he’s been sober for 22 years and has a loving partner and son.

John said he believes people with AIDS deserve the same compassion and dignity he received when he “hit rock bottom.”

He told the audience: “We have to replace the shame with love. We have to replace the stigma with compassion.”

John, who set up a foundation to fight the disease, said prevention, treatment, research and a vaccine are needed to end the epidemic.

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