Fighting for a Cure in the City that Never Sleeps

Eliot Glazer

“Eliot Glazer was a true New Yorker,” recounts his life partner, Jeffrey Wolf, who met him in 1979—”pre-AIDS, post-Stonewall”—at a bar on Manhattan’s Upper West Side called Wildwood when they were in their twenties. Along with two brothers, Rashi and Ira, Eliot had been raised in the West 80s and lived in and around that part of Manhattan until his death from lung cancer, an AIDS-related complication.

Eliot’s education was also rooted in New York City. He attended Hunter Elementary, then Horace-Mann in Riverdale, graduating in 1969. A quick detour to the University of Michigan ended when he got expelled for protesting an ROTC building during the Vietnam War era. He eventually earned an MFA in painting at New York University, but it wasn’t to be his calling.

After graduation he found himself at a job in a gallery hanging paintings and installing artwork in the apartments of the wealthy along Fifth, Madison, and Park Avenues. Since painting was his passion, Eliot thought to himself, “What’s wrong with this picture?”

“Always scheming, Eliot got into Columbia University, where he received an MBA in 1977. He went on to have a very successful career in advertising and marketing, which had allowed him at the time of his death in 2007 to leave amfAR this incredibly generous and much-needed gift,” says Jeffrey. Since his death, his estate has made yet another major gift to amfAR. From 1991 to 2007, Eliot had been a regular amfAR donor, as well, contributing over $97,000.

Eliot Glazer (left) and Jeffrey Wolf above Central Park in Manhattan
Eliot Glazer (left) and Jeffrey Wolf above Central Park in Manhattan

During the initial decade of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the couple deferred testing for HIV until 1987, “because that’s when an experimental treatment called AZT was (finally) approved and there was (finally) something you could try if you tested positive (a death sentence in those days—one that promised to be painful and swift).”

Jeffrey continues: “We were a serodiscordant couple, and Eliot’s journey with HIV, like many others back then, was fraught with shame, secrecy, and stigma. So was our 27-year relationship, which didn’t make life easy for anyone.”

“Eliot always felt that he lived so very long after his diagnosis because he could afford his medication. He had a good job with good insurance. And some money. He felt as if he were one of the lucky ones—making it to 55. And he would be incredibly proud today of the work amfAR is doing in gene therapy and other [interventions] to actually cure HIV,” shares Jeffrey. “It’s a shame Eliot Glazer isn’t here to experience the thrill of seeing the words ‘HIV’ and ‘cure’ in the same sentence together.”

“Eliot Glazer would be incredibly proud today of the work amfAR is doing in gene therapy and other [interventions] to actually cure HIV…”

Jeffrey Wolf

“Thanks to the generosity of people like Eliot Glazer, amfAR is able to fund research to bring those two words—‘HIV’ and ‘cure’—closer and closer together,” says Kyle Clifford, amfAR’s chief development officer. “In his memory and that of countless others, we will continue to make good on our promise—to make AIDS history.”

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