Jake Glaser, the son of Elizabeth Glaser, is a healthy young adult living with HIV. He continues to work with EGPAF to carry on his mother's legacy.
Life can always be counted on to give you the unexpected. It’s up to us, as individuals, to decide what to do with the cards we are dealt. More than anyone I know, my mom understood this. She, Susie Zeegen, and Susan DeLaurentis created the Foundation at a time when few people understood that HIV affected children differently than adults. They barely knew that it affected children at all. But after everything that happened to my sister Ariel, my mother made people understand that research would be the ultimate key to saving other children and eventually stopping the AIDS epidemic.
My mother fought against the grain not for what was acceptable, but for what was right. She fought harder than anyone could explain, and she still fights to this day through me to make sure that doctors and scientists work together to find creative new answers to help children with HIV. She wouldn't let anything stand in her way, and neither will I.
Growing up HIV-positive was challenging for me, as it is for so many kids. Having access to the medication that researchers provided allows these children and families to lead as normal a life as possible. Taking a half dozen pills twice a day and enduring the painful side effects is the price that many people with HIV/AIDS pay to live that normal life. What I face is nowhere near the extent of other children and families. I know what it is like to be free of the burden of medication, and it up to me and everyone involved in this battle to bring that liberation to my brothers and sisters fighting this battle around the world.
Today, I consider myself very lucky. Thanks to my mom and the work of many others, I am able to lead a normal and productive life. But there are still so many kids, many of them my close friends, who are not as lucky. The truth is we are far from done in the fight against AIDS, and there are a lot of kids out there who need our help in order to survive. That's why research is more important today than ever. It is the key to finding a vaccine, and ultimately, a cure. And we cannot afford to wait.
One thing I have learned from my mom is that there is hope. There's hope because of people like you and organizations like EGPAF, whose dedication to research will not waver until we win this battle against HIV/AIDS. So on behalf of all the young people out there suffering from HIV and AIDS, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Trust me, you are making a difference.