Elton John is convinced he "should be dead" after hitting "rock bottom" during his alcohol and drug addictions.
The Rocket Man is sure his reckless behavior left him open to contracting HIV, and he admits he often wonders how he came through his health battle.
Speaking at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday, he said, "Here's a story of a young man coming to terms with his sexuality, who got mixed up in drugs and drink. He took chances with unprotected sex, and he was at very high risk of contracting HIV. He hit rock bottom, his life was a mess.
"He should have died, to be honest, and he almost did. By all rights, I shouldn't be here. I should be dead, six feet under, in a wooden box. I should have contracted HIV in the 1980s and died in the 1990s, just like Freddie Mercury, Rock Hudson and many friends and loved ones. Every day, I wonder: how did I survive?"
Elton, who set up his own charity to help raise awareness of the disease, credits his friends and family with helping him through the tough time, adding, "Everyone deserves compassion. Everyone deserves dignity. Everyone, everyone, everyone deserves love. Why am I telling you this? Because the Aids disease is caused by a virus, but the Aids epidemic is not. The Aids epidemic is fuelled by stigma, violence and indifference.
"We need love. If that word makes you a bit uneasy - if you associate it with Disney and schmaltz, let's call it something else. It's been three decades of this epidemic, and we have seen how human beings react when those around them become HIV positive."
The star also called for more funding into finding a cure for the disease, declaring: "America has shown so much love for those living with HIV and those living in the developing world. If this country wanted to end HIV infections at home it could do so in a heartbeat. All it takes is a bit more funding and a bit more understanding. All it takes is dialogue.
"Maybe you think I'm a bit naive. Maybe you think I'm off my rocker. But even if your dreams come true, even if we had a vaccine it is not enough... Science can stop the disease, but science alone can't end the plague."
Watch "Elton John: I should be dead"