Jake Glaser is a disruptor, advocate, adventurer and surfer living a happy, healthy life in Southern California. And he’s on a mission to show global brands that thousands of kids 18 and younger—which makes up a massive youth bulge confronting HIV in their communities in Africa and other countries around the world—are an audience that’s ready and able to live like Glaser does, with HIV. In other words, ready to live healthy, driven and ready to be ambassadors for a paradigm shift in education and the reality of living with HIV today.
For a time in the mid-2000s, Glaser was literally the poster child for his family’s nonprofit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), advocating for funding, awareness and implementation of programs to stop mother-to-child transmission of HIV. His father is Paul Michael Glaser, the television and film actor who shot to fame as Detective David Starsky in the television series “Starsky & Hutch.” Elizabeth Glaser, Jake’s mother, was a second-grade teacher who received an HIV-infected blood transfusion and learned later that the virus had been passed on to both her children—Jake and his late sister, Ariel.
“She shattered the stereotype” of someone with HIV or AIDS, Glaser says about his mother. And she sprang into action with her husband and two best friends, forming the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation to fund research. In 1987, the Glaser family lost Ariel to AIDS, leaving Elizabeth and Jake living with HIV. At that time, their future was grim. “My mother’s mission was to save my life, and to do so, she took a rather radical approach,” Glaser says. “She saw HIV as an opportunity to understand more than the disease itself—it was an opportunity to understand the immune system. The foundation funded interdisciplinary research by experts across a multitude of diseases at a time when it was taboo and doctors insisted they worked only in a specific field.”
This groundbreaking research perspective led to the successes we see today for managing HIV and AIDS. While Elizabeth was not going to rest until Jake was saved, she lost her life to AIDS in 1994, unable to see where the progress of her efforts would go. And another curveball came the Glaser family’s way: Both Jake and his father discovered they were protected by a rare genetic mutation. While Jake carries the HIV virus, it can’t develop into AIDS. As wonderful as that news was, Glaser’s sense of self was turned inside out for a second time.