We can all make a difference for kids with AIDS

CNN | December 3, 2010

This past summer, CNN's chief medical correspondant Dr. Sanjay Gupta sat down with Elizabeth Glaser's twenty-six year-old son Jake to talk about his experiences growing up with HIV. On World AIDS Day, his blog, The Human Factor, featured a guest post from Jake. (VIDEO)

The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation has always been a part of my life. As a little kid I watched my mom and her two best friends work hard to get things up and running. Now I speak at various foundation events and do what I can to raise awareness of the issues.

There is so much that can be done to educate those around you, so everyone understands that HIV is a preventable disease. Advocate for children and families living with HIV, so children everywhere understand that what you have doesn’t define who you are. Continue to donate to the foundation so we can ensure that we reach every mother with the medicine she needs to prevent the transmission of HIV to her baby. It costs just $15 to reach one woman with the services she needs to prevent HIV transmission to her child – that’s about the cost of a movie ticket or a couple of beers at the neighborhood bar. And finally, appreciate all the beauty in the world. I learned that lesson from my mom and my sister, and I can tell you it makes a difference.

One of my favorite things to do is talk to college students, and when I do, I like to stress the need for everyone to be tested for HIV. I didn’t have a chance to avoid this deadly virus, but today, HIV is nearly 100 percent preventable. An HIV-positive mother can have an HIV-negative baby. And we all have the power to remain HIV free. But still, one in five of those people living with HIV is unaware of their infection. The bottom line is this: the best medicine for HIV is to not get the disease in the first place. This means not only educating yourself, but also practicing prevention and communication with partners, and finding out your status. Because if you are infected, you’ll learn how to get treatment that may help you live longer, and you can avoid passing the infection to your partners. If you are not infected, you can learn how to stay negative. But it all starts with an HIV test.

I have several other interests, but my passion continues to be the work that my Mom started. Still, every day, more than 1,000 children worldwide are newly infected with HIV because their mothers don’t have access to the medication they need. And without treatment, half of those children will die before their second birthday. But we can save those lives. We have the science. We have the medicines. We can eliminate pediatric AIDS. There are so many people out in the world that still need our help. It is for them that we must see this fight all the way through the finish line.