Funding direct services to people living with HIV/AIDS

Established in 1991, The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation has provided over $12 million in grants throughout the world to fund direct care to those living with HIV/AIDS, and services for the prevention and spread of the disease. 22 years after its founding, Elizabeth Taylor’s legacy lives on. In 2012 alone, ETAF awarded nearly $800,000 in grants—and the organization remains a vital voice in the fight against HIV/AIDS.


  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports first cases of a rare form of pneumonia and little-seen cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma, among previously healthy young gay men in New York City and Los Angeles.
  • The New York Times publishes the first article on the disease, Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals. The term ‘gay related immune deficiency’ (GRID) is next used in media reports.
  • At year’s end, 159 cases of the new disease are reported in the United States.


  • Now termed AIDS, cases of the disease are also seen in hemophiliacs. Transmission via blood and sexual contact is suspected.

    853 deaths due to AIDS are reported in the U.S.
  • 1981


  • Dr. Robert Gallo of the National Institutes of Health and Dr. Luc Montagnier of France’s Pasteur Institute independently identify the virus, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) that causes AIDS.
  • 1983
  • New cases of the disease are seen in heterosexuals, drug addicts, and people who received blood transfusions. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) sends a warning to blood banks, noting a potential problem with blood for transmission.
  • The CDC adds female sex partners of men with AIDS to the list of risk groups, along with male homosexuals, intravenous drug users, Haitian origin and hemophiliacs.
  • Thirty-three countries around the world confirm cases of the disease.


  • Elizabeth Taylor organizes and hosts the first AIDS fundraiser to benefit AIDS Project Los Angeles, APLA’s “Commitment to Life” event. While planning the event, Elizabeth learns her friend and co-star, Rock Hudson, is dying of the disease.
  • Africa reports a major outbreak of the disease.

    French philosopher Michel Foucault dies of AIDS.

    At year’s end, AIDS has claimed 3,665 lives in the U.S.


  • With Dr. Michael Gottlieb and Dr. Mathilde Krim, Elizabeth Taylor co-founds The American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR).
  • An HIV antibody test is licensed and screening of the U.S. blood supply begins.

    The First International Conference on AIDS is held in Atlanta.
  • Ryan White, a 13-year-old hemophiliac with AIDS, is barred from attending school.

    15,500 cases of AIDS are reported to date, with 12,529 deaths, including Rock Hudson.


  • Elizabeth Taylor and Dr. Mathilde Krim testify before Congress on behalf of the Ryan White bill to plead for a funding increase for emergency AIDS care in areas hardest hit by the epidemic.
  • 1986
  • Fundraising benefits are organized: The World’s Largest Photo Session, The American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) benefit, is held in New York City; in Arizona, the AIDS Foundation Trust honors Elizabeth Taylor.
  • Needle exchange programs are started in New York City.

    Fashion designer Perry Ellis dies of AIDS.

    At year’s end, 28,700 cases of AIDS have been reported.
  • 1986b


  • The first anti-HIV drug, AZT, is approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). The most expensive drug in history, a one-year supply costs $10,000.

    Entertainer Liberace dies of AIDS.
  • Surgeon General C. Everett Koop calls for the widespread use of condoms and comprehensive sex education to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

    Musical theatre director Michael Bennett (“A Chorus Line”) dies of AIDS.
  • In response to public pressure, President Ronald Reagan finally acknowledges the HIV problem and for the first time uses the term "AIDS" in a public speech.

    Over 50,300 cases of AIDS are reported to date in the U.S.
  • The AIDS Memorial Quilt is started in San Francisco. Each panel commemorates the life of someone lost to AIDS. When displayed at the National Mall in Washington in October, there are 1920 panels; it will grow to include over 45,000 squares.
  • And the Band Played On, a history of the AIDS epidemic by Randy Shilts, is published.

    Elizabeth Taylor and Mathilde Krim join amfAR board members at Art Against AIDS, a fundraiser that will become a nationwide effort to raise funds and awareness.


  • A travel ban is imposed on HIV-positive travelers entering the United States.

    Total deaths due to AIDS in the U.S.: 61,800
  • The Federal Government distributes the educational pamphlet, “Understanding AIDS,” by U.S. Surgeon General Everett Koop, to 107 million homes nationwide.
  • 1988


  • Elizabeth Taylor speaks at Southeast Asia’s first AIDS benefit held in Thailand and visits AIDS patients at Chulalongkorn University Hospital in Bangkok, and attends the Masquerade Ball to benefit The American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), NYC.
  • Steve Rubell, owner of New York City disco Studio 54, dies of AIDS.

    Photographer Robert Mapplethorpe dies of AIDS.

    Alvin Ailey, dancer and choreographer, dies of AIDS.


  • In South Africa, nearly 1% of the population is infected with HIV.

    Fashion designer Halston dies of AIDS.

    Artist Keith Haring dies of AIDS.
  • Elizabeth Taylor and Jeanne White testify before Congress to urge passage of the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act of 1990.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act is passed, protecting people with disabilities and those with HIV/AIDS, from discrimination.
  • Ryan White dies of AIDS at age 18.

    In the U.S., 100,777 people have died of AIDS.
  • 1990


  • The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF) is founded, created to provide critically-needed support services for people with HIV/AIDS and prevention education for populations most in need. The Foundation operates at zero overhead cost; Elizabeth Taylor personally underwrites all expenses for raising and administering the Foundation’s funds.
  • The Red Ribbon Campaign begins: At the Tony Awards, entertainers wear red ribbons to symbolize AIDS awareness, and the ribbon becomes forever identified with the epidemic.
  • Elizabeth Taylor continues to raise funds and awareness for AIDS, attending the London Lighthouse AIDS benefit, the Los Angeles Center for Living Fundraiser, Art Against AIDS in Basel, Switzerland, and the annual International AIDS Conference in Florence, Italy.
  • One million Americans are infected with HIV, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

    Freddie Mercury dies of AIDS.
  • Basketball star Magic Johnson announces his HIV-positive status and retires from the NBA.


  • The first clinical trial of combination antiretroviral therapy begins.

    Author Isaac Asimov dies of AIDS.
  • 1992
  • The American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) undertakes a comprehensive study of needle exchange programs.
  • Elizabeth Taylor continues to raise funds and awareness, attending the 8th International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam; the Glitter and Be Giving Gala in New York for the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), and the Cirque du Soleil Big Top for AIDS fundraiser in Santa Monica, California.
  • Actor Robert Reed (“The Brady Bunch”) dies of AIDS.

    Actor Anthony Perkins (“Psycho”) dies of AIDS.


  • The Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center is established at the Whitman-Walker Clinic, Washington, D.C. The Clinic provides HIV/AIDS testing and services without charge to the community.
  • 1991
  • Elizabeth Taylor continues her fundraising efforts with a benefit concert featuring Elton John at Madison Square Gardens, New York, and headlines the Cinema Against AIDS event at the Cannes Film Festival.
  • The Ryan White CARE Bill is passed.

    Tennis player Arthur Ashe dies of AIDS.
  • Ballet star Rudolf Nureyev dies of AIDS.

    194,475 people have died of AIDS in the United States.


  • Elizabeth Glaser, AIDS activist and founder of The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, dies of AIDS.
  • Pedro Zamora, cast member of MTV’s reality series, “The Real World,” dies of AIDS.

    Randy Shilts, author of And the Band Played On, a history of the AIDS epidemic, dies of AIDS.


  • The first protease inhibitor, saquinavir, is approved by the FDA, introducing highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) treatment.
  • The New York Times reports that AIDS is the leading cause of death among all Americans aged 25-44.

    Olympic diver Greg Louganis announces his HIV-positive status.
  • President Clinton establishes The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.

    Rapper Eazy-E of the rap group N.W.A. dies of AIDS.


  • Elizabeth Taylor attends Art Against AIDS, Venice, Italy; speaks at the XI International Conference on AIDS, Vancouver; attends The American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) 6th Annual World AIDS Day Luncheon, and participates in the Candlelight AIDS March in Washington, D.C.
  • On World AIDS Day, Elizabeth addresses the General Assembly at the United Nations and speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
  • In the fall, Elizabeth hosts the Macy’s Passport fundraiser, an annual event she will continue to headline in both San Francisco and Los Angeles in the years ahead.
  • The UN estimates that 22.6 million people worldwide are infected with HIV.
  • 1996


  • Elizabeth Taylor headlines fundraisers that include AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) Ten-Year Commitment to Life Gala; Dream Halloween Benefitting Children Affected by AIDS Foundation (CAAF); and Unforgettable Fashion of the Oscars Benefit.
  • Funds raised by The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation are directed to domestic and international AIDS service organizations, including service groups in Africa and India.
  • Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) forms in South Africa, a grassroots movement to push for access to treatment.
  • The Minority AIDS Initiative is created in the United States.

    688,200 cases of AIDS are reported in the U.S. to date, and 410,800 deaths.
  • 1998


  • Despite early optimism, reports show signs of treatment failure and side effects from use of HAART, highly active antiretroviral therapy medications. Early hope that combination therapy might affect a cure for AIDS fades.
  • 1999d
  • Experts estimate that half of all new HIV infections occur among people under age 25.

    Sub-Saharan Africa is the epicenter of the global epidemic; 55% of all HIV-positive adults are women.
  • 1999b
  • 1999c


  • 13th International AIDS Conference is held in South Africa, the first in a developing nation.

    CDC forms Global AIDS Program to heighten awareness of the scope of the pandemic.
  • Elizabeth Taylor raises funds and awareness at The Red Hot AIDS fundraiser, London; Honoring with Pride: An Evening on Ellis Island; Cinema Against AIDS Gala – Cannes Film Festival; and the 5th Annual Macy’s Passport event in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
  • UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan calls for a global fund to fight AIDS during African Summit on HIV/AIDS in Abuja, Africa.
  • 2000
  • Elizabeth Taylor receives the title Dame of the British Empire (D.B.E.) in honor of her contributions to the entertainment industry and the fight against AIDS.


  • June 5 marks 20 years since the first AIDS case was reported.

    Elizabeth Taylor is awarded a Presidential Citizens Medal for her work against AIDS.
  • Elizabeth Taylor’s fundraising activities include “The Concert…20 Years With AIDS” starring Elton John – an APLA Benefit; Cinema Against AIDS Benefit, Venice; Cannes 2001: A Diamond Is Forever Benefit; Angel Awards 2001; Macy’s & American Express Passport ’01 – “20 Years of AIDS, 20 Years of Hope.”


  • UNAIDS reports that women comprise approximately half of all adults living with HIV/AIDS worldwide.

    Makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin dies of AIDS.
  • US National Intelligence Council releases report on the next wave of the epidemic, focusing on India, China, Russia, Nigeria and Ethiopia.
  • HIV is the leading cause of death worldwide among those aged 15-59.

    Fashion photographer Herb Ritts dies of AIDS.


  • Elizabeth Taylor continues her fundraising efforts with appearances at the Cannes Film Festival’s “Giant” Screening Benefit Event; the Cinema Against AIDS Gala at the Cannes Film Festival; the Art for AIDS II Benefit; and Dream Halloween, to benefit the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation.
  • In the United States, 930,000 cases of AIDS have been reported to date.

    Fifteen million children worldwide have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS.


  • The Elizabeth Taylor Endowment Fund for the UCLA CARE Center (Clinical AIDS Research and Education) is established at the University of California Los Angeles.
  • 2005
  • The CDC reports that more than one million Americans are living with HIV/AIDS.


  • The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation responds to Hurricane Katrina by funding a $500,000 mobile medical rescue van dispatched to patients in the New Orleans area.
  • 2006


  • Elizabeth appears on stage on World AIDS Day starring in A.R. Gurney’s “Love Letters” with James Earl Jones; the one-night-only event raises $1 million for The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.
  • 2007


  • December 1, 2008 marks the 20th anniversary observation of World AIDS Day

    Globally, over 33 million people are currently living with AIDS; 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981.


  • President Obama announces that his administration will officially lift the HIV travel and immigration ban in January 2010 by removing the final regulatory barriers to entry.


  • The White House releases the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS), the nation's first ever comprehensive, coordinated HIV/AIDS roadmap with clear and measurable targets.


  • Elizabeth Taylor dies on March 23. As an HIV/AIDS activist and award-winning actress, Elizabeth Taylor was one of the first celebrities to speak out about the epidemic. She was also the founding national chairman of amfAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research).

    CDC marks the 30th Anniversary of first reported cases of HIV/AIDS.


  • The United States hosts the International AIDS Conference for the first time in over 20 years (it is the first conference to be held in the U.S. since the travel ban on HIV-positive visitors was lifted).


  • ETAF awards nearly $800,000 during the 2012 grant cycle to a diverse range of organizations dedicated to serving populations most affected by HIV/AIDS—ranging from mobile medical clinics in Malawi, to education and prevention programs in Lihue, HI, to meal support programs in New Orleans, LA.