June 2011

Foundation Experts Available to Comment on 30th Anniversary of First AIDS Diagnosis

June 2, 2011

Contact: Robert Yule, 202-448-8456, ryule@pedaids.org

The world will mark the 30th anniversary of the first AIDS diagnosis on June 5, 2011.

Three decades ago, it was not known what caused AIDS, and millions of lives were affected. Today, we have realized major progress in the fight against HIV – and now have the ability to eliminate the virus in one entire segment of the population: infants and young children. A relatively inexpensive and proven prevention method exists to ensure that no child is infected with HIV, yet only 53% of pregnant women who need this service worldwide are receiving it.

The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation is one of the world’s largest providers of services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT), working at more than 5,400 sites in 17 countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where the pandemic is at its worst. We have reached more than 11.6 million women with this intervention, carrying on the legacy of Elizabeth Glaser, whose personal struggle to save her family led to a global movement to address the issue of children and HIV.

As the 30th anniversary of the first AIDS diagnosis approaches and momentum builds for the elimination of pediatric HIV/AIDS worldwide, the Foundation is making several experts available to discuss various aspects of this unique angle on the pandemic. They include top researchers, hands-on implementers, policy experts, and people living with HIV. Please see a partial list below.

Charles Lyons, President and CEO
Location: Washington, D.C.
Having managed and developed programs for leading global health organizations for more than two decades, Chip has been committed to supporting those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS for decades. He speaks eloquently and passionately about global efforts to eliminate pediatric AIDS, collaboration between NGOs, governments, and global organizations.

Dr. Nicholas Hellmann, Executive Vice President, Medical and Scientific Affairs
Location: San Francisco, CA
Nick has been at the forefront of the fight against HIV and AIDS since the early 80s, when little was known about the disease. He is responsible for providing strategic direction for the Foundation’s programs and research initiatives, ensuring that children are at the core of scientific breakthroughs.

Philip O’Brien, Executive Vice President, Communications, Advocacy and Development
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Philip has spent more than 20 years bringing together key partners for coordinated advocacy efforts on behalf of children’s health. He is charged with increasing global support for the Foundation and the elimination of pediatric AIDS through coordinated marketing, communications, advocacy, and fundraising initiatives.

Dr. Laura Guay, Vice President of Research
Location: Washington, D.C.
Laura has been a leader in pediatric HIV and AIDS research for more than two decades. She spent seven years in Uganda, where she worked on the landmark HIVNET 012 trial that determined the effectiveness of single-dose nevirapine in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Most recently, her research has focused on reducing the rate of HIV transmission in breast-feeding infants and on the testing of an HIV vaccine in infants.

Dr. RJ Simonds, Vice President, Program Innovation and Policy
Location: Washington, D.C.
RJ oversees the development and execution of new technologies and innovative approaches to optimize program effectiveness, among other responsibilities. Prior to joining the Foundation, RJ spent 20 years as a medical epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), working on domestic and global AIDS programs, with a special focus on HIV prevention, care, and treatment of children.

Dr. Anja Giphart, Vice President, Program Implementation
Location: Washington, D.C.
Anja manages the implementation and success of programmatic operations at more than 5,400 sites in the 17 countries where the Foundation works. Having spent the last several years in Tanzania, Anja has in-depth knowledge of the technical requirements in-country – including monitoring and evaluation activities, quality assurance, country support, and technical assistance – to bring about the elimination of pediatric AIDS.

Jake Glaser, Foundation Ambassador
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Jake is a passionate advocate for the Foundation. He speaks compellingly about the legacy left by his mother Elizabeth and sister Ariel, whose lives were lost to AIDS but whose spirit he carries with him every day. Now 26 years old, Jake is part of the first generation of children born with HIV.

Fortunata Kasege, Foundation Ambassador
Location: Houston, TX
Originally from Tanzania, Fortunata travelled to the United States while pregnant with her daughter, Florida, to become a journalist. Soon after her arrival, Fortunata discovered she was HIV-positive. Luckily, Fortunata had access to services that prevented the transmission of HIV to Florida, who is HIV-free. Today, Florida and Fortunata live in Houston, Texas, where they advocate on behalf of the Foundation.

Ben Banks, Foundation Ambassador
Location: Ashland, Virginia
Ben became infected with HIV from a blood transfusion during his battle against a rare form of cancer he had as an infant. Triumphing over cancer and HIV, Ben is now 32 years old, recently graduated with his Master's Degree in Public Health, and speaks to people around the country on the importance of knowing your status and facing HIV/AIDS with dignity.

Cristina Pena, Foundation Ambassador
Location: Oakland, CA
Cristina is part of the first generation of children born with HIV. She is now 25 years old, has graduated from college, and is well on her way to a rewarding career helping young people find meaningful employment. She speaks about the importance of knowing your status and the realities of living with HIV.