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Elton John to pen personal story about AIDS

Singer Elton John speaks during a benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in New York
Singer Elton John speaks during a benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in New York

LONDON (Reuters) - Elton John will write a personal account of his life during the AIDS epidemic, including his friendship with Queen frontman Freddie Mercury who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1991 aged 45.

The "Rocket Man" musician founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation around 20 years ago to raise funds to help fight the disease, and proceeds from "LOVE IS THE CURE: Ending the Global AIDS Epidemic" will go to the charity.

In a statement released on Monday, publishers Hodder & Stoughton promised a "very personal story of ... Elton's life during the AIDS epidemic, including his agony at seeing friend after friend perish needlessly."

Among the individuals it describes are Mercury and Ryan White, an American boy who became a "poster child" for HIV/AIDS after he was banned by a school because of his condition.

According to reports at the time, John was with White when he died in a U.S. hospital in 1990 aged 18.

"This is a disease that must be cured not by a miraculous vaccine, but by changing hearts and minds, and through a collective effort to break down social barriers and to build bridges of compassion," John said.

"Why are we not doing more? This is a question I have thought deeply about, and wish to answer -- and to help change -- by writing this book."

An estimated 34 million people worldwide had the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS in 2010, up 17 percent on 2001 when 28.6 million were living with HIV.

According to the Hodder statement, HIV/AIDS has claimed 60 million lives.

Hodder & Stoughton acquired LOVE IS THE CURE with U.S. sister company Little, Brown and Company.

It is due to be published in July 2012 to coincide with the 2012 XIX International AIDS Conference to be held in Washington DC.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)

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