Every day around the world 900 children become infected with HIV – the vast majority through mother-to-child transmission because their mothers do not have access to the medicine they need to prevent the transmission. This staggering statistic and the global pediatric pandemic is what the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation are advocates for. Because the serious issue of pediatric aids has touched my in a personal way, I wanted to spotlight the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation and the woman behind the pioneering efforts to education the world and the strides that continue in her name today to eliminate pediatric HIV/AIDS.
The words HIV and AIDS radiates a fear in most people. Imagine being told this was your fate before the world knew much of anything at all bout the disease. Elizabeth Glaser, the wife of a Hollywood actor, was diagnoses with HIV 1985, acquiring the disease from a blood transfusion during the birth of daughter 1981. Elizabeth unknowingly passed the disease on to her daughter through breastfeeding. Her son, born in 1984 contracted the virus in utrero. At that time in the early 80’s antiviral drugs was very new and not being testing for children. The Glasers’ daughter died from AIDS related complication in 1988. Determined to save her son’s life, Elizabeth rose to action. She approached two close friends and asked for their help in starting a foundation that would raise money to fund pediatric AIDS research and awareness, as chronicled in her autobiography, “In The Absence Of Angels”.
In the years that have followed, the foundation has grown to a world wide organization and has become one of the largest providers of prevention of mother-to-child transmission services.
New HIV infections in children have been virtually eliminated in middle-income countries such as the United States, but still other areas of globe like Sub-Saharan Africa still endure 69% of the world wide number of people living with HIV/AIDS. The foundation is committed to advocating for better access to care and treatment services for children and families living with and affected by HIV. They continue to work with governments around the world to ensure that HIV positive children are diagnoses and identified early so that thy can begin treatment quickly and lead longer, healthier lives. According the UNAIDS website in a report dated July 18, 2012, there was a 24% reduction in the number of children were newly infected with HIV in just the last 2 years. The foundation’s work continues to saves but is also depends on donation and public awareness.
One unique and upbeat way they are communicating there efforts in through The Generation Free Campaign and Up 4 the Fight ® Dance Marathons, the foundations youth initiative. It aims to engage, empower and unite young people around the world and create a generation free of HIV/AIDS. In their article Ending Pediatric AIDS and Achieving a Generation Born HIV-Free by Lyons et al, published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes August 2012 discusses the dramatic scale up of programs and the focused efforts to virtually eliminate pediatric infections by 2015. The Generation Free Campaign is helping to raise awareness and much needed funds to aid in this effort.
In 2011 UCLA’s Dance Marathon raised over $410,000 for the foundation. From the first fundraiser in 1988 to the extraordinary efforts of organizations like UCLA, the work with policymakers, the scientific community, business leader and the media, the foundation has built upon Elizabeth’s legacy. It began with three mothers in 1988 and is now the leading global nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating pediatric HIV/AIDS. Today, thanks to Elizabeth’s determination and vision, they are able to improve the lives of millions of children around the world every year. Elizabeth lost her battle with AIDS in1994, but her legacy lives on in the organization that bears her name and in her son, Jake who is a national spokesman for the cause, living a healthy adult life.
Glaser, Elizabeth, & Palmer, Laura (1991) In The Absence Of Angels. G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Lyons, Charles, Mushavi, Angela, Ngobeni-Allen, Florence, Yule, Robert, Abrams, Elaine. (2012). Ending Pediatric AIDS and Achieving A Generation Born HIV-Free. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, 60, S35-S38.
UNAIDS Fact Sheet. (July 2012) Retrieved September 18, 2012 from http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/epidemiology/2012/201207_FactSheet_ Global_en_em.pdf