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August 2nd, 2010
09:58 AM ET

Three questions with Jake Glaser

Jake Glaser is a just regular 25-year old, who is just beginning to define what he wants to do in life – at least for now (he wants to be a chef). But he's also the son of famous parents. His father is actor/director, Paul Michael Glaser, who is known around the world as Starsky from the hit '70s TV series "Starsky and Hutch". His mother, Elizabeth became famous in her own right as an AIDS activist. She had contracted HIV after receiving a blood transfusion while giving birth to Jake's older sister Ariel. Because she was unaware she had become infected, Elizabeth unknowingly passed HIV on to her daughter when she breastfed her.

Jake's mother also unknowingly passed the virus on to him, while he was still in the womb. Elizabeth and Ariel Glaser both died from AIDS. Jake, on the other hand, has been living with the virus for 25 years now and is very healthy. He says despite having to live with HIV from the day he was born, "both my mom and my dad blessed me with a very healthy immune system." Jake Glaser talked to Dr. Sanjay Gupta about some of the stereotypes that persist about HIV/AIDS and how he's hopeful about his future.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta:  Why do you think [people still believe] you can get HIV/AIDS [from touching people].  Still today?

Jake Glaser: Well, in the 80's when my mom started the [Pediatric AIDS] Foundation, she made it very clear, she stood up on stage, and she took a cookie, she took a bite of that cookie, she handed it to her friend and she took a bite.  And you know, kind of, everybody gasped, what's going to happen now?  Listen, it's not the case, this is a very preventable disease... I know now that a lot of the transmission that we do see is through sexual activity.  Like I was saying before, for me, I was born with HIV, this isn't something I had a choice about.  I do have a choice to practice safe sex.  For those people out there who were not born with HIV, they have an amazing opportunity to actively work towards stopping the transmission of the virus, to go get tested, to practice safe sex and spread that knowledge to their friends and family.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta:  You're very close with your dad. I know you guys talk a lot.  What about you being a dad?  Is that something that you think about?  When you educate people about that, what do you tell them?

Jake Glaser:   Just recently, I was at UCLA for the UCLA Dance Marathon. At the Foundation, we do all sorts of university-based events, mainly it's the dance marathons, which are a lot of fun.  But I was there with a friend of mine who is HIV positive, and I hadn't seen him in three years.  And I was catching up with him and I said how are you doing, how's your life, how's your health.  And he looked at me and said, I'm a dad.  Speechless, I mean, I was speechless.  And I said, okay, did you adopt?  And he said, no. And I'm sitting there going, so how, how is this?  And nowadays, it is possible.  I mean, there's all sorts of different ways that I know now that's it's capable and it's 100 percent possible for me to be a father.  And it's something that I would love to do, I would love to have a family.

{One of the goals of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation is to reduce the transmission of HIV from mother to child.  Jake Glaser is referring to the possibility of washing sperm and testing it for HIV before using artificial insemination methods.}

Dr. Sanjay Gupta:  No risk to the woman....something obviously that you've thought about?

Jake Glaser:  Oh yeah. Well for a long time I didn't know or believe that it was possible.  I mean I definitely see that with the progress that we're making in the world of HIV and AIDS in the sense of now we are able to dramatically affect and stop the transmission of HIV from a mother to her child, is, I mean when I think about that and I think if my mom were still here, it would be everything and more than she could have hoped for and directly down the right path to get to what she really wanted.  I mean, our goal is to eliminate pediatric AIDS.

To see more of this Colorful Conversation, watch the Sanjay Gupta MD podcast 


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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.