Her 2006 Gift to NO/AIDS Task Force Continues Her Work of Fighting AIDS
(New Orleans, LA) – Area nonprofit, NO/AIDS Task Force joins the rest of the world in mourning the passing of iconic actress and activist Dame Elizabeth Taylor. NO/AIDS Task Force will always remember Taylor for the generosity she showed them in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In 2006, to celebrate her 74th birthday, the actress donated a 37-foot mobile medical unit, dubbed the CareVan, to NO/AIDS to help them continue their work fighting AIDS, as well as an additional gift of $40,000.
Upon seeing the devastation in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and realizing that many of those affected by AIDS had been displaced, and worse, many clinics that treat HIV had been shuttered, Taylor decided she wanted to help. She contacted Martin Delaney, founder of Project Inform, a national HIV/AIDS research and advocacy organization, and asked if he could recommend the best way she could help. Delaney immediately thought of NO/AIDS Task Force and called executive director, Noel Twilbeck.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Twilbeck, remembering when he got the phone call in early 2006. When the phone rang, Twilbeck was sitting in his living room, his home having become the temporary offices for NO/AIDS, since their main offices on Tulane Avenue remained closed due to damage from the storm. “Her original intent was to lease a mobile medical unit and have it sent to New Orleans. Due to Katrina, there were none available to lease, so she instead commissioned one to be built and let us customize it from the ground up. She was incredibly generous,” said Twilbeck.
Today, the CareVan is in operation at least 4 days a week, and reaches a variety of populations in and around New Orleans. It is primarily used to conduct HIV testing and counseling and is a regular sight at community health fairs. It’s used primarily by the agency’s HIV Prevention department to reach underserved populations. HIV prevention and education is the most cost effective way to stem the tide of the AIDS epidemic.
“The CareVan helps us reach hundreds of additional people each year who otherwise aren’t getting tested or getting life-saving information to protect themselves against HIV. We have Elizabeth Taylor to thank for this amazing tool and are honored to be able to continue her legacy long into the future,” stated Twilbeck.