Africa-Press – Eswatini. The Elizabeth Glazer Peadiatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) has been able to reduce HIV transmission from mother to child to less than two percent in 20 years.

This transpired today (April 16, 2024) at Mountain View in Mbabane during the workshop, where the organisation had invited the media practitioners to inform them on the milestones it has achieved since it was introduced to the country in 2004. Dr Christopher Makwindi was the one who made this revelation during his presentation.

Dr Christopher Makwindi from EGPAF giving a presentation on his organisation.

Dr Makwindi said when they opened in 2004, they found that the rate of mother to child transmission of HIV was high, hence they worked with Government in calling all stakeholders to action to reduce that. He said in 2004, there were only three facilities that offered services to prevent mother to child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV in the whole country.

He said with the help of Government, they managed to improve the services so that they could be accessed in almost all health facilities around the country. He said from 2010, they were able to focus on PMTCT, which was now in almost all the health facilities in the country and they were able to reduce PMTCT at six weeks from eight percent to two percent.

Dr Makwindi said PMTCT could be looked at from six weeks to a period of 18 weeks to 24 weeks (the end of breastfeeding period). He said the reduction of PMTCT from 18 to 24 weeks was from 15 percent to 1.34 percent, which was less than two percent.

During the workshop, it was stated that Elizabeth Glazer was an Americann AIDS Activist who was born in 1947 in New York City. In 1981, very early in the AIDS epidemic, Glaser contracted HIV after receiving an HIV-contaminated blood transfusion while giving birth. Like other HIV-infected mothers at the time, Glaser unknowingly passed the virus to her infant daughter, Ariel, through breastfeeding.

Ariel developed advanced AIDS at a time when the medical community knew very little about the disease, and there were no available treatment options. Members of the public reacted with fear, and Los Angeles preschools would not allow Glaser’s then-4-year-old daughter to attend.

Early in 1987, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of the USA finally approved AZT as an effective drug to extend the lives of AIDS patients, but the approval only extended to adults. With their daughter’s condition rapidly deteriorating, the Glasers fought to have her treated with AZT intravenously. However, the treatment came too late, and the child succumbed to the disease late in summer 1988.

That year, Glaser created the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), to raise funds for pediatric HIV/AIDS research.

Glaser entered the national spotlight as a speaker at the 1992 Democratic National Convention, where she criticized the federal government’s under-funding of AIDS research and its lack of initiative in tackling the AIDS crisis. This speech is listed as #79 in American Rhetoric’s Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century listed by rank.

On December 3, 1994, Elizabeth Glaser died at the age of 47, from complications of HIV/AIDS, at her home in Santa Monica. Her son Jake, born in 1984, contracted HIV from his mother in utero, but has remained relatively healthy due to a mutation of the CCR5 gene that protects his white blood cells. As of November 2021, he lives in Venice Beach with his girlfriend, Kerry Corridan, and is the owner of a plant-based food company called Cool Foods. He is also as an ambassador for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), for which he speaks to at-risk children around the world, and mentors HIV-positive youth in Africa.

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