Saying the stakes are "phenomenally high," actress Elizabeth Taylor on Thursday announced the formation of a national AIDS foundation to solicit private donations and funnel the money to researchers hunting for a cure to the deadly virus.
Taylor, who will be national chairman of the Los Angeles-based American Foundation for AIDS Research, said that it "will emerge as the national organization to support research with the staying power to attract adequate financing and resources from the private sector . . . .
'The Mysteries of AIDS'
"We plan," she said, "to muster the talent and energy of America's brightest scientific and medical researchers to solve the mysteries of AIDS. We are prepared to do what it takes to find a cure."
It is hoped that, because of the foundation, AIDS will be seen "as legitimate a disease as cancer and heart disease," one of the organizers said. Researchers have complained often that funding for AIDS projects suffered initially because the disease was thought to threaten only homosexual men.
Taylor said that actor Rock Hudson, who is afflicted with AIDS, made a charter contribution of $250,000 to the foundation and will donate proceeds from a forthcoming autobiography. She read a message of support from First Lady Nancy Reagan also.
The new foundation, which has been described by its proponents as an AIDS equivalent of the American Cancer Society, was announced at a press conference in West Hollywood. Taylor was joined by Drs. Michael Gottlieb of UCLA and Mathilde Krim of New York, both of whom are leading AIDS researchers and played instrumental roles in establishment of the organization.
Merger of Local Groups
The foundation represents the merger of local organizations in Los Angeles and New York that already had initiated fund-raising efforts. It is believed to be the first such organization that is national in scope, and its scientific advisory committee is made up of doctors from throughout the nation.
The committee will determine where the money should be funneled. "The foundation will support the best research it can identify that is designed to seek solutions to this health emergency . . . (and) will provide research grants to support the types of research most likely to lead to rapid understanding and control of the disease," Gottlieb said.
Move Money Faster
Although the foundation is envisioned as providing a supplement to research efforts financed by government, Krim said that it will be able to move money faster to researchers and, "in a disease to which we lose people daily, saving time is saving lives."
No specific fund-raising goal was announced.