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The HIV/AIDS Programs: Who Was Ryan White?


Ryan White

Ryan White courageously fought AIDS-related discrimination and helped educate the Nation about HIV/AIDS.


Ryan White was an Indiana teenager with hemophilia who contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion. He courageously fought AIDS-related discrimination and helped educate the Nation about his disease.

Ryan White was diagnosed with AIDS at age 13. He and his mother Jeannie White fought for his right to attend school, gaining international attention. Ryan was featured on countless television shows and magazine covers and was the subject of a television movie about his life. Ryan White died on April 8, 1990, at the age of 18, just a few months before Congress passed the AIDS bill that bears his name-the Ryan White CARE (Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency) Act. The legislation has been reauthorized three times since-in 1996, 2000, and most recently in with the most recent 2006 enactment renaming the program as the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.

Ryan's mother, Jeannie White-Ginder, continues to speak out about HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination. She has been a speaker at numerous event sponsored by the Health Resources and Services Administration's HIV/AIDS Bureau for programs funded to deliver Ryan White services. Mrs. White-Ginder made the following comments in her letter to attendees at the 2006 Ryan White Grantee Meeting and Clinical Update. She will be a featured speaker in a special workshop to be held at the 2008 Ryan White Grantee Meeting.

Jeanne White Ginder's Letter to Ryan White
HIV/AIDS Program Grantees

August 2006

Dear Attendees,

I love that this program is named the Ryan White CARE Act and that my son continues to have an impact on helping people. That makes me very proud. But we run the risk of forgetting those who got others to listen and care about HIV/AIDS. And so I want to say something about them.

Over 20 years ago, I was a Christian girl from a small town in Indiana in search of information about anything I could do to make Ryan well. And I started meeting people, mostly gay men, whom I had never met before in my life. Just like Ryan and me, they were looking for answers and dying. I met their mothers and fathers and they were just like me, hoping to save their children. What we faced was discrimination and fear and panic. The sad part was trying to get people to listen. But we did.

Many people made this program happen to help people with HIV/AIDS get care. They turned an idea into a law through energy and heartache. Most are no longer here.

But you are here and your work matters. Thank you for the impact that you make.


Jeannie White-Ginder




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