Greetings to our wonderful supporters!
Thank you once again for you continued commitment to our shared mission of eliminating pediatric AIDS worldwide. As you know, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation is a global leader in the fight against pediatric HIV/AIDS, and our successes so far would not have been possible without the help of supporters like you. Working at more than 5,500 sites in 17 countries, the Foundation has reached more than 12.2 million women with services to prevent transmission of HIV to their babies through our innovative program implementation, research and advocacy initiatives.
But that is us today. The Foundation’s beginnings were much more humble, simply founded by three moms sitting around a kitchen table who decided to make a difference.
It all began when Elizabeth Glaser contracted HIV in a blood transfusion in 1981 while giving birth to her daughter, Ariel. She and her husband, Paul, later learned that Elizabeth had unknowingly passed the virus on to Ariel through breast milk and that their son, Jake, had contracted the virus in utero.
The Glasers discovered, in the course of trying to treat Ariel, that drug companies and health agencies had no idea that HIV was prevalent among children. The only drugs on the market were for adults; nothing had been tested or approved for children.
Ariel lost her battle with AIDS in 1988. Fearing that Jake's life was also in danger, Elizabeth rose to action. She approached her close friends, Susie Zeegen and Susan DeLaurentis, for help in creating a foundation that would raise money for pediatric HIV/AIDS research.
The Pediatric AIDS Foundation had one critical mission: to bring hope to children with HIV and AIDS. Elizabeth made her first trip to Washington, D.C. in 1988, when she met with President and Mrs. Reagan, representatives at National Institutes of Health, and members of Congress. In 1989, the Foundation held its first fundraiser and awarded its first grant for research on the immune dysfunctions in children living with HIV. Dozens more Washington trips and research grants followed.
Elizabeth lost her own battle with AIDS in 1994, and to honor her legacy, the Pediatric AIDS Foundation was renamed the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Under that name, the Foundation has become the leading global nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing pediatric HIV infection and eliminating pediatric AIDS through research, advocacy, and prevention and treatment programs.
Elizabeth’s legacy lives on in her son, Jake, who today is a healthy young adult, and travels the world advocating to finish what his mother started.
Elizabeth’s story is made especially poignant in the musings of our Lesotho Country Director, Dr. Leopold Buhendwa. He recently wrote this message to you, our supporters:
“Lesotho, which we call the 'Kingdom in the Sky,' is one of several places in Africa where the legacy of Elizabeth Glaser is transforming the country. At the national level, Ministry of Health officials credit the Foundation for helping to make lifesaving prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services accessible to the majority of families in Lesotho. At the community level, men, women, and children living in mountain villages more than 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) high are inspired when our staff members travel there to share Elizabeth’s story.
While visiting one of these communities, I once met a young mother enrolled in our PMTCT program who tearfully asked if she could send a letter to Elizabeth Glaser. She was inspired by Elizabeth’s story and she didn’t understand that Elizabeth passed away many years ago. When I asked the woman why she was crying, she said that she was moved to learn that Elizabeth, a wealthy woman from America, did so much to help poor women like her, who have nothing left to live for but their children.
Thanks to stories like these, as well as the positive spirit and commitment of all my colleagues in Lesotho, I feel proud to belong to the Foundation. My only frustration is that I have too few opportunities to teach others about Elizabeth’s legacy. I’d like to shout her story to all of humanity, and inspire them to join us in our mission to create a generation free of HIV.”
We are only able to carry on Elizabeth’s lifesaving work with the support of generous donors like you. Thank you for choosing to give to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Please stay up-to-date with the Foundation’s programs, or learn more about Elizabeth’s inspiring story at www.pedaids.org.