Marty and her son, Brett. (Photo: Marty Mitchell)
My son, Brett, was infected with HIV at birth in 1980. When he was diagnosed seven years later, nobody gave us much hope. At that time there were no FDA-approved drugs for children with HIV — only clinical trials.
When Brett was in third grade, he stood up in show-and-tell and courageously told his classmates that he had AIDS. For the next 20 years, he dedicated his life to raising awareness and educating others about the disease that would one day take his life.
In the early 1990s, Brett and I were introduced to EGPAF, and Brett became one of the original children supported by its work. Through EGPAF’s efforts, new pediatric HIV drugs were developed and approved. Thanks to these drugs, children like Brett lived longer than anyone expected.
Brett lived a very full life for 27 years. He loved fast cars, rollercoasters, computers, and his beloved dachshund, Noodle. But Brett had to move back home to live with me in 2007, and soon afterward he entered hospice care. Six short weeks later, Brett died peacefully surrounded by loved ones.
Just because Brett’s struggle with HIV is over does not mean that I will ever stop fighting or educating others about this virus. We’ve lost too many children to HIV, and we’ve even lost the person who started this crusade — Elizabeth Glaser — who Brett and I had the privilege of knowing personally.
Thanks to Elizabeth’s work, many of the original children associated with EGPAF are not children anymore. They are productive adults with careers, some with their own families. That was a possibility that nobody even considered in the early days of HIV/AIDS, and now we’re making it happen.
If we keep working together in the spirit of Brett and Elizabeth and so many others, I know we will see a day when every child has the chance to become a healthy, happy adult.
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