amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

In Loving Memory of Dame Elizabeth Taylor

(February 27, 1932–March 23, 2011)

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March 23, 2011— "I will not be silenced and I will not give up and I will not be ignored." With these words, Elizabeth Taylor lent her voice to the voiceless, her iconic image to those who had previously been invisible, and her compassion and determination to a cause many others had shunned: the fight against HIV/AIDS. Her willingness to speak out against apathy and silence in the early, frightening days of the epidemic and her instinctive sympathy for those in need earned her a place as one of the most influential advocates for people living with HIV in the U.S. and around the world.
When Dame Elizabeth was asked why she decided to become involved with AIDS in the first place, she replied with characteristic bluntness:  "Well, 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 I was just like them.  I wasn't doing anything to help."  So she got involved.  And when she did, she didn't just help, she changed the landscape forever.

Liz 5

Elizabeth Taylor's involvement with AIDS began in December 1984, when she became a major supporter of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), focusing her efforts on raising the public's awareness and finding the funds needed to fight the disease.  Even after months of rejection, she pressed on, working with her good friend and publicist, Chen Sam— pleading, pressuring, coaxing, making calls and signing letters to influential and wealthy friends. In 1985, Elizabeth Taylor joined the board of directors of the National AIDS Research Foundation (NARF) in Los Angeles. Shortly afterward, NARF merged with the New York-based AIDS Medical Foundation (AMF), founded by Dr. Mathilde Krim, to form the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). Dame Elizabeth sent word that she was interested in leading a national fundraising effort for the nascent organization.  "Celebrity is not something that comes without responsibility," she said.   "If I can help further a worthwhile cause simply by lending my voice, I feel that it is my place to do so."

As amfAR’s founding national (later international) chairman, Dame Elizabeth worked tirelessly to establish the Foundation's name within the U.S. and around the world.  Much of her early work with amfAR involved courageously speaking out about the realities of the disease during a time when very little was known about the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).  She began lobbying aggressively for increased federal funds for research, education, and direct services to support those affected by the rapidly spreading epidemic, and testified before Congress in support of the Ryan White CARE Act of 1990, which remains a primary source of federal funding for HIV/AIDS programs.

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As the most famous advocate for people with HIV/AIDS, Dame Elizabeth maintained a personal connection to those affected while continuing to speak out on their behalf. In 1989, she made headlines when she was photographed shaking hands with an HIV/AIDS patient in a Bangkok, Thailand, hospital.  The photograph ran in papers throughout Southeast Asia and, at least in that region, probably did more than any other single event to quell fears about touching people with AIDS. On World AIDS Day 1996, she delivered a fervent appeal to the General Assembly of the United Nations, urging all nations to join together in a worldwide attack on HIV/AIDS.  Following this formal appearance, she went down to Manhattan's Lower East Side where she "dropped in" on a local needle exchange program, with little fanfare.Dame Elizabeth always had a comfortable relationship with the AIDS community, their families, and their advocates; she sensed their need for direct support and comfort.

In 1991, she founded the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation to help service organizations across the country in their efforts to provide direct care to people with HIV/AIDS, as well as prevention education for the general public.In 2005, amfAR changed its name from the American Foundation for AIDS Research to The Foundation for AIDS Research, to reflect its increasingly international focus. As the Foundation expanded its reach, Dame Elizabeth continued to speak out about the urgent need for more research and to use her consummate skills as a fundraiser to support that effort. Despite a reduced schedule over the past several years, she remained one of the most public faces of amfAR, chairing its Cinema Against AIDS benefits, most recently in Cannes in 2002, and appearing in amfAR Chairman Kenneth Cole’s groundbreaking public service ad campaign titled “We All Have AIDS (If One of Us Does)” in 2005.


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Several years ago, to honor its founding international chairman on her birthday, amfAR's staff placed an open letter in one of the Foundation's event journals.  That birthday message was a fitting tribute then and is a fitting tribute now:  "All your life you were known for your beauty.  During the past two decades or so, we gradually came to take that beauty for granted, but we were also constantly arrested by your other qualities.  We were staggered by your grace under fire.  We were inspired by your outspoken honesty in the face of the disbelievers.  And we were comforted by your deep compassion for all those living with HIV/AIDS."  amfAR will remember and honor Elizabeth Taylor for keeping the faith and for inspiring us year after year to keep going until this devastating epidemic is conquered. 

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Visitors to our website, in the weeks following Dame Elizabeth's passing, left the following condolence messages.

Today we lost a strong leader that fought against injustice, prejudice, shame and discrimination with love, determination, defiance, strength with a kick butt attitude.  The true Rock of Gibraltar is gone, but her love and toughness will stay with us forever. You work is done, but you have left this world a blueprint to make it a better place.  You are truly missed. GOODBYE MISS TAYLOR is time for rest.
Beverly G

Made a $20 donation. Wish it could be more. I am devastated.
Kevin V

Elizabeth Taylor was an amazing actress and a beautiful woman. She achieved the rare accomplishment of making the successful transition from child star to adult actress. Her advocay for AIDS victims and research was full of courage and compassion. No actress has left behind such a legacy as hers. Her talents will be missed.
Marjorie M

Your dedication to and hard work on behalf of the HIV/AIDS community will never be forgotten, and neither will you. You will be truly missed. My condolences go out to all those who knew and loved you.

R.I.P. Elizabeth Taylor. Thank you for being such a great actress, a ground breaking humanitarian & a wonderful friend to someone I loved very much. My prayers & condolences out to her family, friends & everyone who loved her
Charmaine S

V iva Cazuza is a Brazilian Aids/NGO. We are very sorry about that enormous lost. This true Diva will be missed.

Dear Miss Taylor you will be truly missed, but your legacy will lived forever in our hearts. I hope we can measure up to the wonderful job you started against AIDS and continue until we defeat such devastating disease. Rest in peace and may God bless your soul.

Let Hollywood and the media say what they will, and they will have their say, for she was one of their mainstays. But for those of us who survived the early dark years of AIDS in the United States, the Reagan years, when we had so few friends of any stature, and almost no one was with us who was not one of us, Elizabeth Taylor was always be remembered. She was one of the handful who cared before caring was lauded. Who stood up against fear and hate, and who spoke the truth, in that fluty piquant voice, for the so so many who had none. She was real, she gave a shit, and she tried. And many now who did little till it was chic and safe to do so, should remember that Elizabeth Taylor was a woman above all else, of conscience. We who were denied so muchlife itselfwill never forget the dignity she accorded people with AIDS, which came back to her, of course, a million-fold.
Chris B

Dame Elizabeth was a beautiful person ....... inside and out. Her tireless work for AIDS research, care, and treatment will not and must not be forgotten. Thank you, Dear Lady and Rest In Peace for Eternity........ You will be missed greatly!!

Until we meet again,

Your legacy is eternal. You carried a style of elegance and grace. You cared deeply for the human race. Thank you for your charitable contributions, your compassionate heart. Thank you for being a very dear friend to Michael Jackson. We will forever love and miss you dearly.

The stars I have seen in your eyes, have gone to Heaven, bless Your soul Elizabeth. Ill always think og U and what U did for us…
Best regards
Ulf Bjørling, Denmark

We regret the passing of our dear Lady Elizabeth Taylor For over 25 years, was an ardent supporter of AIDS research, treatment and care. condemned the discrimination and prejudice and has enabled millions of the right to live life. The GTP + comes Elizabeth thank Ms. Taylor the possibility of the right to life for us people living with HIV and AIDS
Very respectfully,
Group Work in Positive Prevention

She gave a voice to a movement that saved so many of us. One of the world's great humanitarians. May she rest in peace with my those who she fought so valiantly to save!!!!!

Dear Ms. Taylor,

You were there when no one was. You were there, speaking out on behalf for me and my fellow brothers, as we struggled with this terrible disease. We owe an enormous debt to you and your struggle on our behalf. My Best Wishes to you and your surviving family,
Lee J

I will never forget the moment i met legendary Elizabeth Taylor. She was always to me the movie star who gained notoriety for her talent, beauty and her marriages. As an aspiring actress, several films were close to my heart "National Velvet", "A Place in the Sun", "Butterfield 8", "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" .couldn't take my eyes off her in "Cleopatra" and Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf" was so powerful a performance. Then she became the shining light as a philanthropist for amfar and fearlessly reached out and brought awareness, education and compassion to aids. The benefit concerts featured Burt Bacharach, David Foster, Barry Manilow and other music greats but this particular event was at the Kirkeby mansion Beverly Hills. She was wearing a lavendar chiffon evening dress and glided along in gracious style as the gracious host to quite an extravagant evening. As we were introduced, I felt as though my hand touched an angel, a goddess, a great humanitarian who will never be forgotten.
Denise D

Thank you for the work, love and compassion you showed for so many. You will be missed and remembered.
Sheldon S

On behalf of the American Public Health Association, I want to take a moment to remember and salute the advocacy and compassion of this extraordinary American. There is no question we are all better off because of her work. She will be missed.
Georges C

An amazing actress, an incredible activist but a unique human being. She leaves us today to start her voyage to rest, she leaves us her teachings, her examples to follow, her passion, her love. Bon Voyage Dame Elizabeth Taylor, now more than ever the world needs people like you to fight for those without a voice, to lead the way towards justice, to call on others to join the cause, the fight on AIDS. Thanks to you Elizabeth my world is a better world today. We'll miss your presence. Descanse en paz!

What you have done for the world cannot be explained in a sentence or even several paragraphs.We thank you for your tireless efforts you put forth on behalf of all who walk the earth. You certainly took the bull by the horns, and led us all through many a dark and foreboding walkway. Certainly it was easier for everyone to close their doors to this new disease, and make like it wasn't going on. But it was you who held the spotlight on all to see it, and get many to board this new train of yours. Shower this new illness with light and information, and no longer were we walking in dark hallways. Thank you on behalf of the entire world. Your work is now done, May you sleep like a newborn baby, and have wonderful moments in the hereafter.Thank you again,
Pam G

Dear Friends at AMFAR,
This is a photo I took of Elizabeth in 1992 wearing a Versace 'portrait' gown he designed with sequined images of her in various movie roles. Her work has been inspirational to me as my company prepares to introduce a new generation in condom design that is expected to change consumer attitudes and increase condom usage.
Best regards,
Danny R

Aside from the celebrity, the public private life and the professional success, I think Dame Elizabeth would rightly want to be remembered for standing up for those who needed a voice. When she took on the fight for AIDS/HIV, these poor people were being shunned and stigmatized by every level of society. She had the courage to say, enough, let's stop the nonsense and come together as people looking after other people. Yes, she was talented, beautiful, tempestuous, entertaining and interesting, but I will remember her for her absolute and steadfast compassion for those suffering and in need. RIP Dame Elizabeth.
With sympathy,
Paula S

Elizabeth Taylor was the first person in the entertainment industry to stand up and take charge when few were willing to listen, and even fewer were willing to help. Since then she has remained at the forefront of the battle against this disease, a loyalty that has earned her the name the "Joan of Arc of AIDS." May we all continue her fight.
Randal L

God Bless You, Ms. Taylor… as a long-term survivor with HIV I celebrate your existence and dedication to humanity. All my love and gratitude.
Mark A

Dame Elizabeth Taylor was an extraordinary actress and humanitarian. I was a child during the start of HIV/AIDS when people were afraid of the disease and those who had it, but Elizabeth stood up and fought for those people and fought to find a cure for the disease. After testing positive in 2001, I always felt she was an angel and always felt good of the work she did. The world today is mourning a great advocate but her legacy will live on and her fight will continue in her name. You will be missed but never forgotten.

Dame Elizabeth Taylor was an extraordinary actress and humanitarian. I was a child during the start of HIV/AIDS when people were afraid of the disease and those who had it, but Elizabeth stood up and fought for those people and fought to find a cure for the disease. After testing positive in 2001, I always felt she was an angel and always felt good of the work she did. The world today is mourning a great advocate but her legacy will live on and her fight will continue in her name. You will be missed but never forgotten.
Mark I

Today we have lost one of the greatest advocates of young men who were dying in 1981 of an "unknown-disease-epidemic" in the Los Angeles area. I was privileged to be involved in developing methods for growing the virus in the lab when the first patient was seen in 1981 by the USC’s expert physician, Dr. Alexandra Levine. There was no diagnostic test at the time so we diagnosed hundreds of patients by culturing their blood cells and detecting the virus by its specific enzyme activity (reverse transcriptase). I still remember distinctly when Dr. Levine and I received an invitation to the first Elizabeth Taylor Gala Event in 1984/85 and had the honor to meet this wonderful charismatic person briefly. This event marked the Foundation the Elizabeth Taylor Foundation, the AIDS Project Los Angeles and the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AMFAR), which is now an International organization. Liz Taylor became an avid spokesperson, sponsor, and activist to support HIV/AIDS Research. She will always be remembered not simply as the most beautiful women in Hollywood but a wonderful, kind, gentle and compassionate person who cared for the humanity. May she be blessed with grace and rest in peace forever!
Suraiya R

God Bless Elizabeth! She, as in life, gave every challenge that she came in contact with her all. She never gave up and did everything with class. Your burdens in life are now over, but the fight lives on. You will always be remembered for you being you. Rest in peace and your family & extended families, my deepest condolences.
Angela F

Thank you, Dame Elizabeth, for being courageous and speaking out when so many looked the other way.
Michelle B

When the matters of HIV/AIDs were considered taboo, she set in stone an excellent foundation to help those when no one else was willing to.

3/23/11 There are no more stars. It was a small press room until Ms. Taylor stepped into it. It was as if she had brought a follow spot with her. The room was lit by her presence. Around her neck was a million dollars worth of diamonds whose sparkle was second only to her mythical violet eyes. She gave a short speech and removed a million dollars from her neck and gave it to amfAR. It was a mere moment but on this day I have a sweet remembrance I am proud to be able to share.

A heartfelt note of condolence for Elizabeth Taylor. Not only did you bring awareness to the plight of those stricken with this deadly disease, you gave it a face, a recognizable face, and you gave it a voice. Thank you for giving the gift of your celebrity to this disease and making it your cause until you left us, today. We pray for you peace, on your journey home. God Bless You, Elizabeth Taylor.
Alan C

Liz Taylor lived for every minute and tirelessly helped others. That is what being a celebrity and having wealth should be about.
Anthony T

The seven Foundation Pillars of Good Character are LOVE. HUMILITY. HONESTY. FORGIVENESS. CHARITY COMPASSION. COURAGE. Dame Elizabeth Taylor had them all. And,she Gave them all to the WORLD. R..I.P.
Dr. Willard F

I became HIV positive 25 years after the pandemic began. I live, because the new generation of HIV medication I take daily - keeps me alive. I live, because someone like Elizabeth had the balls to stand up to our government and advocate on our behalf for greater HIV/AIDS research and funding at a time when far too many of us were dying. In a roundabout way, I am alive today because of you Elizabeth Taylor. God Bless.

Elizabeth Taylor personified beauty, elegance, intelligence, love and humanity. Her tireless efforts in humanitarianism is truly awe-inspiring. She left an indelible impression on many. The world is much darker, much colder and infinitely less beautiful now that she has departed the world. I pray for her to be in peace and I will think of her with a smile on my face.
Sarah W

Condolences continued on next page.