Sir Elton John believes AIDS can be cured ''with love''.

The 'Candle in the Wind' hitmaker pointed out that US legislation to provide AIDS relief to developing nations was based on compassion and caring for other people and thinks the strength of emotions is what drives research into the incurable illness.

Speaking at the AIDS 2012 international conference in Washington D.C., he said: ''Maybe you think I'm naive.

''Maybe you think I'm off my rocker. Here I am telling an audience of 7,000 global health experts that you can end AIDS with love.

''[But] thanks to all this compassion, all this love, more than 8 million people are on treatment ... Thanks to people who have chosen to act, who have chosen to care, we can see an end to this epidemic, but it's going to take a lot more compassion to get us there, a hell of a lot more.''

Elton, 65, went on to note that ''shame and stigma'' prevent many people from getting help with the condition and discussed his belief that everyone needs to feel that they matter in the world.

He added: ''We have inexpensive and accurate take-home tests for HIV. But we can't convince people to get tested if they think their lives don't count ... Millions of people around the world feel ashamed because of who they are. They feel subhuman, worthless, like they don't matter at all.''

Referring to his recovery from cocaine addiction, he added: ''I felt that shame before and it almost killed me. It's killing people all around the world. We have to replace the stigma with compassion.''