23 March 2011

RIP Dame Elizabeth Taylor, HIV/AIDS Activist

It is bad enough that people are dying of AIDS, but no one should die of ignorance. ~Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor photographed in the 1950s.

The child star with violet eyes

A legendary star of stage and screen, Elizabeth Taylor has achieved equal fame for her humanitarian commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS, which dates from 1984. As she remembers it, “I kept seeing all these news reports on this new disease and kept asking myself why no one was doing anything. And then I realized that I was just like them. I wasn’t doing anything to help.” The opportunity to do so came only too soon, when her long-time friend Rock Hudson died of AIDS. Appalled by both the suffering he experienced and the cruel and gratuitous condemnation that befell so many of those affected by the disease, Ms. Taylor determined to speak out against hypocrisy and discrimination and for compassion and care. Ever since, she has lent her voice—and indeed her heart and soul—to the fight against HIV and AIDS.

In 1985, Ms. Taylor joined with Dr. Mathilde Krim and a small group of physicians and scientists to form the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). As amfAR’s Founding National Chairman, she became the new organization’s principal spokesperson and titular head. As a great star and beloved public figure, she attracted enormous media attention. As a woman and a mother, her voice touched millions of hearts and minds. Indeed, for many Americans, it was Elizabeth Taylor who brought the issue of HIV/AIDS into the mainstream. AMFAR
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