Quinn Tivey opens up to PEOPLE about being inspired by his late grandmother, who "would never buckle under pressure"

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Quinn Tivey, Elizabeth Taylor
Quinn Tivey; Elizabeth Taylor
| Credit: Getty (2)

In this essay for PEOPLE, Elizabeth Taylor's grandson, Quinn Tivey, 35, an officer of The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF), writes about carrying on the late star's legacy of advocacy on behalf of people living with HIV and AIDS.

Thirty years ago, my grandma founded the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation to provide direct care for people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. The fight against HIV/AIDS was such a vital part of her legacy, and although the fight is far from over, I'm honored to see ETAF continue her work — educating legislators, raising awareness for the public, disproving myths and decreasing fear and stigma. I know grandma would be proud of this work too. 

Today the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation's "HIV Is Not A Crime" initiative, in partnership with Gilead Sciences, focuses on the modernization of criminal laws and penalties that currently target people living with HIV. Outdated laws that were enacted decades ago because of fear and stigma toward people living with HIV have not adapted to modern science.

These unjust laws are fostering stigma and discrimination and act as barriers to progress. With the right medications, people living with HIV can have undetectable viral loads with the virus, therefore being effectively untransmittable. Despite this, people living with HIV in more than 30 states are being charged and branded as criminals because of their status. Furthermore, in most HIV-related cases in these states, neither proof of transmission nor intent to harm is required for conviction. 

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Left to right: Eliza Carson, Kate Burton, Laela Wilding, Finn McMurray, Quinn Tivey, Tarquin Wilding, Naomi Wilding, Rhys Tivey
| Credit: Paul Morigi/Getty Images

Criminal HIV laws disproportionately affect many of the same communities that are also disproportionately affected by HIV: women, including transgender women; BIPOC (Black, indigenous and other people of color); low-income communities; sex workers and migrants. Black men represent nearly half of all new HIV infections, and are six times as likely to be incarcerated as white men.

Grandma would have been incredibly proud of the work being done through the 'HIV Is Not A Crime' initiative. Grandma stood up for what she believed in, living boldly and courageously. She would never buckle under pressure, and she certainly would not support the status quo if the status quo didn't feel right. 

For Pride month, we are asking you to consider making a one time or monthly recurring donation to ETAF in honor of our 30th anniversary here.

For more information, visit elizabethtayloraidsfoundation.org.