Elizabeth Taylor ran 'secret underground network' to provide Aids patients with experimental drugs, friend claims

Kathy Ireland said although Dame Elizabeth's work was illegal, 'she was saving lives'


Olivia Blair
Wednesday 02 December 2015 11:55 GMT
Dame Elizabeth Taylor diedaged 79 in 2011, she is pictured here in 2007
Dame Elizabeth Taylor diedaged 79 in 2011, she is pictured here in 2007 (Ethan Miller/Getty Images))

A close friend of the late Dame Elizabeth Taylor has claimed she ran “a secret underground network” to get experimental HIV and Aids medication to patients.

Kathy Ireland, the American model and close friend of Dame Elizabeth, who died in 2011, spoke to Entertainment Tonight on Tuesday to mark World Aids Day.

Discussing Dame Elizabeth’s many years of campaigning to fund prevention and education techniques and combat the stigma of HIV and Aids, Ireland described the “safe house” Dame Elizabeth ran in Los Angeles.

“Talk about fearless, [it was] at her home in Bel Air," she said. "It was a safe house and a lot of the work she did was illegal, but she was saving lives.

“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.”

The safe house bears some resemblance to the one made famous in the 2013 biographical film Dallas Buyers Club. Matthew McConaughey won an Oscar for playing Ron Woodroof, an Aids patient who smuggled unapproved drugs into Texas to cure himself and others in the 1980s.

When asked if Dame Elizabeth was ever worried she would be caught, Ireland said she wasn’t afraid.

“She would go to jail for it. Elizabeth and fear are not in the same sentence.”

Ireland also claimed the British-American actress sold her own jewellery to fund the covert operation.

Dame Elizabeth is considered a champion fighter against the disease and co-founded the American Foundation for Aids Research (amfAR) in 1985 and the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation in 1991.

She was reportedly prompted to join the fight against Aids after her longtime friend Rock Hudson announced he was dying of the disease in 1985 and her personal secretary killed himself after finding out he was HIV positive in 1991.Her former daughter in law later contracted the disease.

In 1992, she famously told a press conference she didn’t think President George Bush was doing “anything at all about Aids… In fact, I’m not even sure if he knows how to spell Aids.”

The Independent has contacted The Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation for comment.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in