Quinn Tivey, 35, an officer of The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF), writes about continuing the late star’s legacy of campaigning for those living with HIV and AIDS. Quinn Taylor is Elizabeth Taylor’s grandson.
“My grandmother established the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation thirty years ago to offer assistance to those who were afflicted by HIV and AIDS and those who were living with them. Although the fight against HIV/AIDS is ongoing, I’m honored to see ETAF carry on her legacy by educating lawmakers, increasing public awareness, busting myths, and reducing stigma and fear. Grandma, I’m sure, would also be pleased with this effort.”
Currently, the “HIV Is Not A Crime” program of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, in collaboration with Gilead Sciences, focuses on updating criminal laws and punishments that currently target people with HIV. Old rules passed decades ago out of fear and stigmatization of HIV-positive people have not been updated to reflect contemporary science.
These unfair laws serve as roadblocks to advancement by encouraging stigma and discrimination. With the correct drugs, HIV-positive individuals can become non-transmittable due to undetectable viral levels.
Despite this, persons with HIV are accused of crimes and treated like criminals in more than 30 states. Furthermore, conviction is unnecessary in most HIV-related proceedings in these states if there is no evidence of transmission or malicious intent.
Women, including transgender women, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and Other People of Color), low-income communities, sex workers, and migrants, are among the groups disproportionately impacted by criminal HIV laws. Black men are six times more likely to be incarcerated than white men, accounting for roughly half of all new HIV infections.
The work being done through the “HIV Is Not A Crime” project would have made Grandma extremely pleased. Grandma had a brave and adventurous life, standing up for what she believed in.
She would never capitulate in the face of pressure and never embrace the status quo if it didn’t feel right.