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elizabeth taylor
“She received death threats and friends hung up on her when she asked for help”

Elizabeth Taylor ran a secret Aids safe house in the 1980s

The actress campaigned hard against the disease and a friend says she took in patients herself in order to get them the medication they needed

The late British-American actress Elizabeth Taylor reportedly ran an underground operation caring for those with Aids and providing people with HIV the experimental medications that the American government had outlawed. It wasn’t until 1987 that the most sought-after treatment, AZT, was approved. Based in Taylor’s own Bel Air mansion, the operation was allegedly funded by profit that she made from selling her own jewellery. We can’t imagine how much that could’ve been, but let’s just say a lot.

Taylor’s model friend Kathy Ireland told Entertainment Tonight, “It was a safe house and a lot of the work she did was illegal, but she was saving lives.” Sounds a bit like Dallas Buyers Club, right? Ireland continues, “Her business associates pleaded with her, ‘Leave this thing alone.’ She received death threats and friends hung up on her when she asked for help, but something I love about Elizabeth is her courage.”

It would most certainly not only take courage but vast connections for this operation to run successfully. At the time, the market for these drugs remained overseas in Switzerland, Sweden, and Japan, as well as Mexico. For someone at the time receiving an HIV diagnosis, medical attention was minimal and medications weren’t readily provided. It felt like a death sentence. President Reagan didn’t view the epidemic as a hot-button issue, and was, for lack of a better word, useless. Thus, we had pioneers, including Ron Woodroof and Elizabeth Taylor, who bent the rules because the US government made it difficult to receive treatment.

Taylor’s own life was affected by the Aids epidemic and encouraged her to help strangers who were also suffering. Her dear friend, actor Rock Hudson, was diagnosed, as well as her personal secretary, who later killed himself after being diagnosed in 1991. Taylor’s daughter-in-law was also diagnosed.

In 1985, Elizabeth Taylor co-founded the American Foundation for Aids Research (amfAR). During George Bush’s presidency in the early 90s, Taylor continued to push her efforts and formed the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation, which has been successful since its startup in 1991, raising millions worldwide.