EGPAF Celebrates 30 Years with Capitol Hill Reception
Katie Coester, EGPAF
General; Policy & Advocacy
More than 30 years ago, Elizabeth Glaser went to Capitol Hill demanding that Congress pay attention to children with HIV and AIDS. Her purpose was to save the lives of her children, but the advocacy she put in motion has led to the saving of millions of lives of children and their families around the world.
It was fitting that we celebrated 30 years of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation on Capitol Hill on June 12, to recognize the important partnerships that have carried Elizabeth’s legacy along the way — partnerships including Congress, across Administrations, and those with our friends in the private and public sectors. Senators Bob Casey (PA) and Orrin Hatch (UT) and Congresswomen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL) and Barbara Lee (CA) served as honorary co-hosts for the event.
Senator Casey and Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen both gave warm remarks about the challenges that remain in the fight to end pediatric AIDS. While important strides have been made, 400 children are still infected each day, and less than half are accessing lifesaving treatment.
We know there is much more work to be done when it comes to children. Senator Casey
Elizabeth’s son, and EGPAF Ambassador, Jake Glaser, spoke fondly of his mother’s fight that began in the halls of Congress out of her desperation to save him.
“To stand here at 33-years-old [and HIV-positive] is quite a feat. I feel like all of you should probably be standing up here with me because this is where it all began. Actions are louder than words, and my mother chose to bring her words here and take action and you responded and for that I am grateful,” said Jake in his address to members of Congress and other supporters in attendance.
We were fortunate to have EGPAF Ambassador Maurine Murenga share her personal story of fighting HIV in Kenya. Maurine is an HIV-positive mother to a 14-year-old HIV-positive son and a 4-year-old HIV-negative son. She turned her own struggle into an opportunity to help other mothers and young women with HIV, truly exemplifying the spirit of Elizabeth.
Finally, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador, Deborah Birx, highlighted the long partnership EGPAF has had with the U.S. government, implementing global AIDS programming from the very beginning. She spoke of reaching out to EGPAF in the late 1990s to bring one of the first generations of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services to Africa where she was working.
“In the first year we had 20,000 women on nevirapine [an HIV antiviral] because of [EGPAF]. It was never enough for [Elizabeth] to achieve what she had achieved — and the same goes for the Foundation – EGPAF is always pushing further, harder and faster to end AIDS in children.”
Guests in attendance came from all corners of the domestic and global AIDS response — ranging from the Director of the Office of AIDS Research at NIH, Dr. Maureen Goodenow, who was a recipient of early EGPAF research dollars, to the ambassador from Mozambique, Ambassador Carlos Dos Santos (one of the 19 countries that EGPAF has a presence in today). Conversation in the room was not limited to past successes, but also on the need for new commitments to continue the fight Elizabeth began 30 years ago.
On this anniversary, we recommit ourselves to this fight and reaffirm Elizabeth’s legacy of compassion. Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen