(CBS News) Rocker Elton John describes how he was recruited into the battle against AIDS in a new book, "Love is the Cure: On Life, Loss and the End of AIDS," published this week by Little Brown.
Proceeds from the memoir will go the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which has raised more than $275 million since it was founded in 1992.
John tells his story through anecdotes about AIDS victims - and survivors - who have influenced his life, from the famous, like Queen rocker Freddie Mercury, to the ordinary, like Indiana youth Ryan White who was 18 when he died of AIDS in 1990.
Describing the stigma that once surrounded AIDS, John says Mercury, one of his closest friends, was so ashamed of his illness that he did not disclose it until the day before he died.
"I reached out to the White family to offer my help," he recalls. "It turned out, in the end, the Whites would do far more for me than I ever did for them."
He also calls on readers to join him in the fight. "This is a disease that must be cured not by a miraculous vaccine, but by changing hearts and minds, and through collective effort to break down social barriers and to build bridges of compassion," he writes.