I’m starting a new monthly series about mothers that have changed the world. Whether it be by changing the way we think, the way we live, or the way we treat each other.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how the word mother gets thrown around to people who are truly not qualified for the title. We tend to focus on these females in our conversations and in the the news media.
I want to take away the focus on these woman and focus on women that epitomize the word, Ama (Mother.)
That is why the first woman I want to focus on is the late Elizabeth Glaser.
A lot of people reading this may already know who she is. However, I’ve been surprised that women born in my generation (late 80s) are not aware of who she is, and how much she has changed the world we live in.
Elizabeth Glaser received a blood transfusion while giving birth to her daughter in 1981.
The blood she was given was contaminated with the HIV virus (which was not tested for in the early 80s)
Elizabeth Glaser contacted the virus through the blood transfusion and unknowingly gave it to her daughter, Ariel, through her breast milk.
In 1984, without knowing she had the virus, Elizabeth went on to have another child, Jake, who contracted the virus in utero.
In 1985 Ariel began showing signs of the virus and that was when they discovered all three family members had contracted it.
At this time there was absolutely no treatment in pediatric HIV/AIDs. It meant a death sentence for Elizabeth’s children, because the virus was already showing acceleration.
This is when Elizabeth went to war for her children.
She pioneered the research for pediatric HIV/AIDS treatment. Demanded they test the adult AZT drug intravenously in her daughter.
Sadly, Elizabeth’s daughter Ariel succumbed to the AIDS virus. It was just too far along for the drug to be effective.
A lot of people at this point would have given up, but Elizabeth, being the true mother she was, pressed on. She was determined to save her son and other children from this disease.
In 1988 she founded the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. The foundation raised public awareness about HIV infection in children and help raise funds for the development of pediatric AIDS drugs and mother-to-child transmission.
A lot of people at this time assumed it was a “gay” disease. It was looked upon as only immoral or sexually deviant people would contract the virus. It was wrong morally to believe this, it was also scientifically wrong.
Elizabeth Glaser brought the face of her children, that no one could argue were completely innocent. They still caught the virus. She made the public pay attention and demand research on a disease they were overlooking.
Elizabeth fought for her son and other HIV positive children until the very end of her life.
In 1994 she lost her own battle with AIDS.
Because of Elizabeth Glaser’s true grit and determination, her son Jake is alive today. If not for her there is little doubt her son and countless other children would have lost their lives to AIDS.
I think about Elizabeth Glaser often. I pray I would be able to do the same in the situation. I also think about how unfair her life was- and how that didn’t stop her from saving others.
Thanks to the research of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation the child AIDS diagnoses dropped from 896 children in 1992 to 13 children in 2009.
The ARV medications also allow mothers with low viral loads to breastfeed their children with extremely low risk of transmission. In areas of the world where breast milk is combating child mortality rates, it is life changing.
If Elizabeth Glaser was still alive there is no doubt she would still be campaigning to save children with HIV/AIDS. The work is not done. We have the technology now to have people live quality lives in the United States. We need to make sure the rest of the world is also supplied with the same lifesaving medication.
The video believe explains the woman she was far better than I could articulate above.