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There are a string of milestones circling the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
On Oct. 19, EGPAF hosted its annual “A Time for Heroes” family festival, marking the 25th time the organization has put on the kid-friendly party, which has raised nearly $35 million to support the cause. Founder Elizabeth Glaser’s son Jake, who has been HIV-positive his entire life, will celebrate his 30th birthday Oct. 25. And on Dec. 3, it will have been 20 years since the death of Elizabeth, who created the foundation in 1988 after losing her daughter, Ariel, to complications from AIDS. (Elizabeth contracted HIV through a blood transfusion and unknowingly passed the virus to both Ariel and Jake.)
Jake was among the attendees at Sunday’s Heroes event, which also drew a slew of industry guests and celebs including Julie Bowen, Zach Braff, Donald Faison, Judy Greer, Jeff Probst, Henry Winkler, Denise Richards, Pete Wentz, Neal McDonough, Jaime Pressly and others. Jake talked to The Hollywood Reporter during the Heroes bash about his mother, her mission and his own desire to start a family.
It’s a time full of milestones for you and EGPAF. How does it feel?
Yeah. It’s 25 years of this particular event. My mom’s birthday is coming up on Nov. 11, and I will be 30 on Saturday. It’s crazy. To be here 25 years after this event was introduced is pretty amazing. We’re close to seeing a generation free of HIV.
How are you doing?
I’m doing great. My health has always been amazing. I work with [EGPAF] a lot to fundraise, raise awareness and reach the younger generation.… Me and my community have also started an organization called Modern Advocate and what we do is we use the lifestyle of alternative sports — surfing, skateboarding, street art, music, essentially the “cool factor” activities — to reach youth with the message and bring them closer to organizations like Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation to break down the stigma and give them a sense of empowerment to take care of themselves.
You’ve lived through an interesting time with HIV and AIDS. Do you think the disease is getting the attention it deserves?
Honestly, no. There was a lot of attention in the early days of this fight, naturally because … it demanded a lot more attention. Now the fence that we ride is that this is now a manageable disease. We know how to prevent it. There are prophylactics and [ways] for people to prevent HIV. Now the battle is raising awareness enough to stop transmission across the board … and there needs to be a much greater effort in doing so.
What do you think your mom would say if she could see you today?
Oh my god. She would say work harder (laughs). In the spirit of “A Time for Heroes,” she was a superhero. She would be so proud of everybody who has contributed to this and grown the organization to where it is today and ultimately, I think her direct message would be that it’s amazing where we stand today, but now it is time to sit down and refocus and develop new strategies to reach the generation of tomorrow to use the tools they have to be free of HIV. And if you’re already HIV-positive, to remain aware of your sexual behavior and your behavior within the community.
You mentioned being responsible with your sexual behavior. How do you personally do that?
I have an amazing girlfriend, and she knows all of my doctors and we’ve worked really hard to educate her and myself. My girlfriend is HIV-negative and I’m HIV-positive. When you’re in a relationship it’s having a mutual respect and mutual understanding of the situation that you’re in. And when it comes to sexual behavior, you have to practice safe sex. I practice safe sex all the time. There is no excuse not to.
Do you want to have children?
Of course I do.
With your current girlfriend?
Yeah. Having a family has been a dream of mine. Experiencing what my parents gave me growing up. It would be an honor and a privilege to give that to my children. Having a family is something that is definitely going to happen and I look forward to it very much — little Glasers running around. My mom will have a huge smile on her face when that happens.
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