This past February, I traveled to Tanzania to film a documentary about the fight to eradicate pediatric AIDS and create a generation free of HIV. The documentary focuses on the programs of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, which is commemorating its twentieth year fighting this pandemic.
Started in the U.S. by Elizabeth Glaser after her daughter, Ariel, died of AIDS, the Foundation now works around the world to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV and provide care and treatment to children and families affected by the disease.
The film premiered last night at the Sony Theatre in New York City, and it is now available to view online. Please check out the full-length documentary, but if you don't have 45 minutes to spare, we also have a two-minute version with some of the highlights.
The Foundation works in 17 countries, but we chose Tanzania for the film because it represents what needs to be achieved in the fight against pediatric AIDS, as well as how far we've come. We had a life-changing experience there -- not just because the country is spectacularly beautiful, but also because the people are exceedingly friendly and hospitable. And despite the dire straits many people find themselves in because of diseases like HIV/AIDS, there is more than just hope to hold on to. Thanks to organizations like the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, real results are achievable.
Every day, 1,000 children worldwide are infected with HIV -- that's nearly 370,000 children every year. The numbers are staggering -- but it doesn't have to be this way.
In Tanzania, we visited Foundation-supported health clinics where pregnant women living with HIV receive the treatment they need to give birth to healthy babies. I met HIV-positive mothers who -- thanks to Foundation-supported programs -- have HIV-negative toddlers scampering through their houses. These mothers are also receiving antiretroviral treatment, allowing them to live healthy lives and provide nurturing, stable homes for their children.
But we desperately need to reach more women and children with this treatment. Less than half of HIV-positive pregnant women worldwide are receiving the services they need to prevent HIV transmission to their babies. And for those babies who become infected, half will die by their second birthday without proper treatment.
I feel extraordinarily passionate about this film, which of course is not exactly surprising. But I truly believe that if we get the message out -- that we have the science to prevent almost all new HIV infections in children, and that we need to get pregnant women tested for HIV and get treatment for them and their infants if need be -- then we CAN create a generation free of HIV.
After you watch the film, I'm sure you'll feel as passionately as I do. To learn more about the Foundation's efforts to eradicate pediatric HIV and AIDS, please visit www.pedaids.org/jointhemoment.
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