The “great people are coming”. Paediatrician and medical research scientist Dr Glenda Gray’s late father would have nodded knowingly at this phrase after Gray was chosen as one of Time magazine’s top 100 most influential people in the world.
She is the second South African to make the list, following Thuli Madonsela in 2014.
Her work in determining which drugs stop HIV-positive mothers from transmitting the virus to their babies and which HIV-exposed babies should be given was recognised by the prestigious magazine.
According to the most recent figures, less than 1% of all babies with HIV-positive mothers are born HIV positive in South Africa.
Before Gray’s work about 25% of all infants born to positive mothers contracted the virus.
Gray’s father died when she was a child, but she recalled his phrase the “great people are coming” in reference to the talents of his six children.
“He would always say this to us. My father expected the best. He had big expectations of us.”
James McIntyre, Gray’s partner in setting up the perinatal HIV research unit at the Chris Hani- Baragwanath Hospital, said: “South African research, including Gray’s, directly contributed to the success in preventing mother-to child transmission.
“Whether standing up to President Thabo Mbeki’s denialism, or fighting for the advancement of South African researchers, Glenda’s courage and determination have always been evident, along with her wicked and irreverent sense of humour.”
Their work led to people getting their HIV results on the same day they tested, which is now standard practice in South Africa.
Gray is more than a lab coat. In 1998, she joined a protest against Mbeki’s Aids denialism outside Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital and lay in the road to block traffic.
For the full article: TimesLive