About the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program

Last Updated on September 1, 2023 by Lori Pace

A 13-year-old-boy is the reason for establishing the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. Such an inspiring story!

Who is Ryan White?

Just A Normal Kid: 10 Facts About Ryan White | The Children's Museum of  Indianapolis

Ryan White, a 13-year-old boy, was diagnosed with AIDS after he had gone through a blood transfusion in December of 1984. The doctors told him he only had six months to live after diagnosis. However, he surprised the doctors. Ryan lived five years longer than expected and died a month before his high school graduation. 

He lived in Kokomo, Indiana, and was discriminated against for having aids at school. This made him and his mother rally for his right to attend school, giving him national attention and eventually making him the face of public education about the disease.

After his death in April 1990, congress passed the CARE Act in August 1990. The Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act is the largest federally funded program in the US for people struggling with HIV/AIDS.

The following are the goals of this Program:

  • Improve availability of care for low-income, uninsured, or underinsured individuals struggling with HIV/AIDS
  • Help families cope with the diagnosed

How Did Ryan White Get AIDS?

It was the 17th December of 1984 when Ryan White was diagnosed with AIDS. making him one of the first children to have aids. He had hemophilia, a blood defect that delays clotting of the blood, making even minor injuries bleed severely. Therefore, he needed blood treatment. However, things didn’t go as planned since the blood that was transferred to him was contaminated with HIV. 

There were still a lot of misconceptions about AIDS in the year 1984, which means he was discriminated against for being diagnosed with it. The CDC also showed up with many precautions (gowns, gloves, masks, and etc.) 

Ryan White Wanted To Go To School

He was diagnosed with AIDS and only had three to six months to live, but even though that was the case, he still wanted to attend school. His mother was scared, with every cough and every fever, she was worried that it was going to be his last. This made her think that he wasn’t healthy enough for school. 

However, Ryan started getting healthy and started gaining weight. This is when Ryan asked his mother if he could go to school because he wants to see his friends too. It was a long process, and Ryan didn’t attend school for about a year and a half. He became worried about him retacking the seventh grade all over again. This is because he knew he was a smart and intelligent child and didn’t want people to think he wasn’t. 

There were court hearings and medical experts to see. They wanted the people to become educated about his condition and what it means to have AIDS. But people didn’t believe them right away; they condemned him and threw all the misconceptions about HIV/AIDS at him. 

Ryan White Moved to Cicero, Indiana, and the beginning of HIV/AIDS Program

The community welcomed them when they moved to Cicero, Indiana. Partly because a young student body president, Jill Stuart, brought medical experts to talk to children about HIV/AIDS. This was an exemplary process of educating the children and letting them talk about what they have learned to their parents. 

Ryan got what he wanted, he could finally attend the school like the children who weren’t diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. He got to go to proms and dances and even landed a job. It was a big step for him, being accepted and treated like the others without discrimination. 

Final Remark and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program

Ryan White’s legacy is that he got people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS with proper drugs and treatment. He also inspired Congress to pass the CARE Act.

Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!