Mother’s Fight To Save Her Children Still Inspires AIDS Organization

New York 1 | May 13, 2012

NY1 reporter Kafi Drexel tells the story of Elizabeth Glaser’s battle against HIV/AIDS and caught up with Foundation President Chip Lyons to talk about the history of the Foundation and its current fight to eliminate pediatric HIV/AIDS.

A leading international AIDS organization is using this Mother’s Day to remind all mothers that the fight to end pediatric AIDS starts with them. NY1's Health reporter Kafi Drexel filed the following report.

Every day, more than 1,000 mothers around the globe transmit HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, to their unborn children.
So the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation seeks to save lives all over the world by preventing the transmission of HIV from pregnant mothers to their babies.
The organization's president & CEO, Chip Lyons, recalled at a recent fundraiser for the group in Henri Bendel department store in Midtown how the cause stems from one woman's daunting struggle.

"It really started out of the tragedy of Elizabeth Glaser contracting the virus through a blood transfusion early on when no one could imagine that AIDS was affecting families and children," says Lyons. "She got the virus, didn’t know she had it, passed it on to both of her children and in discovering that they all three were HIV-positive, she just got this ferocious determination to protect herself and protect her kids."
Glaser passed away from AIDS-related illness in 1994, but the organization named in her honor is hoping the same ferocious determination lives on through its new campaign, “A Mother’s Fight,” which raises funds and awareness.
Someone who backs that fight is Regan Hofmann, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1996 and is now an author and editor-in-chief of POZ Magazine, which focuses on HIV and AIDS.

"I think few people fight harder than a mother does for their child. When my mother was told that I was living with HIV she went into massive overdrive and was going to do everything she could to save my life," says Hofmann.

Through research and medical advances due in large part to the Glaser Foundation, pediatric AIDS in the United States has nearly been eradicated. That is not the case in other parts of the world, so the group that began 25 years ago as one woman’s mission to save her children has now become a global cause.
"We are really on the threshold of being able to eliminate pediatric AIDS in the world which is a remarkable statement because 12 years ago we didn’t have the medicines to accomplish that," says Lyons. "Today we’ve reached over 50 percent and the momentum is such that we’re going to reach the other 50 percent."