Our founder was a courageous leader in the fight against AIDS. She took her activist work as seriously as her work in film, and helped pave the way for others to join the fight for this once taboo cause. To honor Elizabeth Taylor’s legacy as a true humanitarian, ETAF has chosen to periodically recognize outspoken individuals making extraordinary contributions to furthering our mission.
Elizabeth Taylor Legacy Award: Elton John
November 7, 2017
We are so proud to announce Sir Elton John as the recipient of the 2017 Elizabeth Taylor Legacy Award. Elton John and Elizabeth Taylor were more than dear friends. They both shared a desire to leverage the power of their celebrity to speak out for those affected by AIDS and to raise millions of dollars for research, prevention, treatment, and advocacy. ETAF Ambassador Aileen Getty and three of Elizabeth Taylor’s grandchildren, Rhys, Eliza, and Quinn presented the award at the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s 25th Anniversary Gala in New York. The evening was devoted to honoring Elton for his leadership, commitment, and enduring vision as the Founder and driving force of the Elton John AIDS Foundation. During the tribute to Elton John, Aileen Getty announced that the Aileen Getty Foundation and The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation would join together to provide $250,000 in funding for the fourth year of EJAF’s joint grant-making partnership with ETAF.
Elizabeth Taylor Legislative Leadership Award: U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Senator Chris Coons
At AIDSWatch 2017 in Washington D.C., The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation conferred the third annual Elizabeth Taylor Legislative Leadership Award to Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and to Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) in recognition of their work championing the interests of people living with and affected by HIV.
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is the most senior United States Representative from Florida and the first Cuban American and Latina elected to Congress. She began her career as a teacher and founded a bi-lingual elementary school in Florida. The Chairman emeritus of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, she currently serves as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa and on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
A strong supporter of LGBT rights, Ros-Lehtinen is a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus and was the first Republican in the House to co-sponsor the Respect of Marriage Act. She is also a co-chair of the Congressional HIV Caucus and has coauthored legislation approved by the House to bolter America’s commitment to fight the global HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE)
Christopher Coons is a United States Senator from Delaware. He currently serves on the Appropriations, Foreign Relations, Judiciary, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Ethics committees. Additionally, he is a ranking member of both the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Bankruptcy and the Courts as well as the Appropriations subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. Before being elected to the Senate in 2010, Senator Coons served as New Castle County Council President for four years and also worked as an attorney for W.L. Gore & Associates, where he helped the company expand and create jobs.
In December 2015, Senator Coons, along with Senator Baldwin and Senator Markey, introduced legislation aimed at helping end stigma, discrimination and stereotypes that negatively impact Americans living with HIV/AIDS through the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act.
Elizabeth Taylor Legacy Award: Whoopi Goldberg
December 1, 2016
On World AIDS Day 2016, four of Elizabeth Taylor’s grandchildren surprised Whoopi Goldberg on The View with the Elizabeth Taylor Legacy Award. Colin Farrell, Lionel Richie, and Elton John also took part in the surprise, honoring Whoopi for her dedication to standing up for people living with HIV and AIDS for three decades. Whoopi continues the fight of her friend, our founder, Elizabeth Taylor, and has been an incredible Ambassador to The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. The Grammy, Golden Globe, Emmy, and Academy Award winner is an advocate who truly “walks her talk,” as her friend Lionel Richie so perfectly described her.
Elizabeth Taylor Human Rights Award: Martha Tholanah
July 18, 2016
The Elizabeth Taylor Human Rights Award was presented to Zimbabwean advocate Martha Tholanah at the 2016 International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa. Oscar award winning actress Charlize Theron joined three of Elizabeth Taylor’s grandchildren and one of her great grandchildren on-stage at the Opening Ceremony to honor the outspoken champion of equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and for all people living with HIV.
Following her early life experiences of violence at the hands of soldiers fighting the Zimbabwe War of Liberation, Martha Tholanah has become one of the most recognizable, effective, and influential advocates for human rights in her native Zimbabwe, and all of southern Africa.
Trained as a family therapy counselor, Martha Tholanah has established and led health-related programmes for communities that have often been left behind, or scorned by, traditional health services. A leading advocate for the informed involvement of people affected by HIV in ethical, patient-focused research and outreach, Tholanah is credited with ensuring that Zimbabwe’s National AIDS Council now includes LGBT people in their programming. She has also established or led health related programs for organizations such as the Network of Zimbabwean Positive Women (NZPW+), Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), the International Community of Women Living with HIV Southern Africa, the Women and AIDS Support Network (WASN), Women’s Action Group (WAG), and many others.
Martha Tholanah’s work on behalf of women, people living with HIV, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people has not been easy, nor has it come without personal cost. For her efforts to protect human rights, and prevent injustices such as forced sterilization, Tholanah has and continues to face incarceration and legal sanctions in Zimbabwe. But she has also inspired others to take up the fight, and in doing so she continues to leave her mark not only on Zimbabwe, but also on the entire world.
Elizabeth Taylor Legislative Leadership Award: U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Senator Frank Lautenberg
February 29, 2016
At AIDSWatch 2016 in Washington D.C., The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation conferred the second annual Elizabeth Taylor Legislative Leadership Award to Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) and posthumously to Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) in recognition of their work advancing comprehensive sexual health education, and their dedication to achieve an AIDS-free generation.
Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) serves as the Senior Democratic Whip, is a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and former co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. As a champion in support of comprehensive sexuality education and against HIV/AIDS Rep Lee has authored or co-authored many pieces of legislation addressing sexual health and HIV/AIDS globally and domestically. This includes legislation that created the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, and the position of Special Advisor for Orphans and Vulnerable Children. She has secured millions of dollars for HIV/AIDS prevention, education, treatment and care services in Alameda County in her district and nationally. As a member of the powerful federal spending committee, Congresswoman Lee leverages her position on two key subcommittees to support prevention, education, research and access to treatment while combatting stigma.
This congress Rep. Lee has introduced H.R.1586, the Repeal Existing Policies that Encourage and Allow Legal HIV Discrimination Act of 2015 to protect people living with HIV/AIDS and H.R.1706, the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act of 2015 which stands as the gold standard in the fight towards more comprehensive sexuality education for young people. Additionally, Rep. Lee is a cosponsor of HR 1600, the Patients’ Access to Treatments Act of 2015; HR 768, the Stop AIDS in Prison Act of 2015; HR 1101, the Viral Hepatitis Testing Act of 2015; and HR 3185, the Equality Act all aimed at expanding health access for people living with HIV and frequent comorbidities.
Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), the last remaining World War II veteran in the Senate, served five-term’s as U.S. Senator from 1983 to 2001 and again from 2003 until he passed away on June 3, 2013. Aside from his military service Sen. Lautenberg fought for policies that would improve the health of individuals in the U.S. and abroad. The Senator fought to combat HIV/AIDS as an original cosponsor of the Ryan White CARE Act, which is the largest source of federal funding dedicated to HIV/AIDS care. This bill was passed by Congress in 1990 and re-authorized four times since, most recently in 2009 with the Senators support.
Lautenberg was also the senate champion for comprehensive sex education introducing the S 372, the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act of 2013 and S.578, the Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act of 2011.
Accomplishments in his lauded career include: working toward gender equality, anti-violence measures, reproductive choice, and access to comprehensive reproductive health both domestically and internationally.
Elizabeth Taylor Legacy Award: U.S. Congresswoman and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
September 10, 2015
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi was presented with the Elizabeth Taylor Legacy Award at the 2015 United States Conference on AIDS for her tireless work in the fight against HIV. Since her first day in Congress, combating HIV and AIDS has been a priority for Leader Pelosi, stating in her first speech in Congress on June 9, 1987, that “…now we must take leadership of course in the crisis of AIDS.” During the four years she served as Speaker of House, discretionary funding for HIV/AIDS was increased by over half a billion dollars. In that time, the bans on federal funding for syringe exchange and the travel ban for people with HIV/AIDS were lifted – fights Pelosi had been waging since her first years in Congress.
Pelosi spearheaded the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which has provided significant benefits for those with HIV/AIDS by:
- dramatically increasing access to Medicaid for people with HIV,
- improving Medicare Part D for people participating in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP),
- ending discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, and
- ending annual and lifetime caps on health benefits.
Elizabeth Taylor Legislative Leadership Award: U.S. Congressman José E. Serrano
April 13, 2015
U.S. Congressman José E. Serrano was presented with the inaugural Elizabeth Taylor Legislative Leadership Award for his work supporting syringe exchange programs. Congressman Serrano, representing the Bronx, NY, is a longstanding champion in the fight against HIV/AIDS and has played a pivotal role in removing the bans on use of local Washington D.C. and federal funds to support syringe exchange, an issue Ms. Taylor was passionate about. Congressman Serrano’s constituents consider him a key ally among legislators working to end the HIV epidemic. Ms. Taylor’s grandchildren and ETAF Ambassadors — Naomi deLuce Wilding, Laela Wilding, Tarquin Wilding, Eliza Carson, and Quinn Tivey — presented the honor to Representative Serrano during a ceremony at 2015 AIDSWatch, an annual advocacy event in Washington D.C.
Elizabeth Taylor Legacy Award: Aileen Getty
September 6, 2014
Philanthropist Aileen Getty was presented with the inaugural Elizabeth Taylor Legacy Award at the 2014 Angel Awards. Getty emerged in the national spotlight in the 1990’s, when she became one of the first women of her social standing to come out as HIV-positive. Elizabeth Taylor’s former daughter-in-law was honored for her bravery in speaking out at a time when few dared and for the ongoing work of her two nonprofit organizations, Gettlove and the Aileen Getty Foundation. Together, Getty’s organizations work toward improving the community as a whole, including the fight against HIV/AIDS, homelessness, and mental illnesses.
Elizabeth Taylor Human Rights Award: Paul Semugoma, M.DJuly
July 20, 2014
Paul Semugoma, M.D was presented with the Elizabeth Taylor Human Rights Award at the International AIDS Conference in 2014 in recognition of his accomplishments as a leader and advocate for human rights in the field of HIV/AIDS. The award was presented by amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research; the International AIDS Society (IAS); and The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. A physician from Uganda, Dr. Semugoma has been at the forefront of efforts to address gaps in HIV prevention, care, and treatment among gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in Africa. In 2009, when the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced in the Ugandan Parliament, Dr. Semugoma became a vocal opponent of the bill and testified before Parliament on the potential adverse effects of the proposed legislation on public health, especially among gay men and other MSM. The bill, which punishes “aggravated homosexuality” with life in prison, was ultimately signed into law by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in February 2014.
Elizabeth Taylor Human Rights Award: Dr. Arash Alaei and Dr. Kamiar Alaei
July 22, 2012
Dr. Arash Alaei and his brother Dr. Kamiar Alaei were presented with the inaugural Elizabeth Taylor Human Rights Award at the International AIDS Conference in 2012.
The brothers were actively involved in AIDS research in Iran and, along with other clinicians and advocates, helped make the country a leader in prevention of HIV and treatment for people living with HIV, including enlightened policies on needle exchange and one of the region’s best prison programs. The doctors shared their knowledge by holding training workshops for Afghan and Tajik health professionals.
Both doctors were arrested by Iranian authorities in June 2008 without cause and without charges or a trial. After a one-day, closed-door trial, they were convicted on January 19, 2009 and sentenced under charges of being in “communications with an enemy government” and “seeking to overthrow the Iranian government under article 508 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code.” Kamiar was sentenced to three years in prison and Arash was sentenced to six years. Both were freed early following highly visibly international efforts.