The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF) will be the Presenting Sponsor for AIDSWatch 2017. AIDSWatch mobilizes hundreds of HIV/AIDS advocates, bringing them to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress to inform them about policies and resources needed to address the epidemic. AIDSWatch, which is organized by the Treatment Access Expansion Project (TAEP), AIDS United and the US People Living with HIV Caucus, takes place March 27-28, 2017.
In its longstanding support of AIDSWatch, ETAF continues Elizabeth Taylor’s legacy of meeting with leadership at the highest levels to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and encourage action to help those in need. With her powerful voice and foresight, Taylor helped destigmatize AIDS starting in the 1980s, a time when a compassionate response to individuals living with HIV/AIDS was sorely missing in both public and private spheres. She helped found amfAR, which today continues to be a leader in supporting and funding AIDS research. And in 1991, she established The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation to support organizations addressing direct-care needs and providing services for people living with HIV/AIDS, especially those in the most marginalized communities. It continues to provide grants to programs around the world and raises awareness thanks to its Ambassadors, many of whom are Taylor’s grandchildren.
“Elizabeth Taylor is proof that change is made when someone speaks up from the heart and inspires others to take action. There’s no other event quite like AIDSWatch for doing just that and we are proud to continue to support it,” said Joel Goldman [A&U, June 2016], managing director of ETAF, in a prepared release.
AIDSWatch trains participants on HIV research, prevention, treatment, and important policy developments, helping to fine-tune their advocacy and messaging skills in order to amplify their voice on the Hill and within their own communities.
This year, AIDSWatch will focus on the pernicious effects of unjust HIV criminalization laws, which are often based on outdated HIV science and encourage stigma and unfair treatment of people who are aware of their positive serostatus. “These laws punish responsible behavior like getting tested and privilege ignorance of HIV status,” said Goldman. “This is exactly the type of issue that Elizabeth Taylor would have passionately taken on with all her might. HIV criminalization laws are counterproductive to ending this epidemic, and are not based on current science or fact, but rather ignorance and fear.”
AIDSWatch will address other issues, including the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, quality sexual health education, housing, and ongoing federal investments in HIV care, prevention and research.