Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Ryan White's Legacy Continues to Help Others

Ryan White
Can you believe it's been 25 years since we lost Ryan White?

Twenty-five years ago, life was different.  We were a lot dumber about HIV and AIDS.  Science had not advanced to where it has today.

While you can't yet defeat HIV, it's now no longer a death sentence and people are living years and high-quality lives with the virus.  Treatment is expensive, and experiments continue.  I think within my lifetime, we will find a vaccine to help prevent it.

Ryan White acquired HIV through no fault of his own.  A hemophiliac, he contracted the virus after a bad blood treatment at the age of 13.  His indomitable attitude and positive outlook on life were inspirational even as he was the target of scorn and hate.  He was banned from attending school even though doctors and the Indiana State Health Commissioner, Woody Myers, said that he was no threat.  Eventually, his family won a lawsuit and he was able to attend school.  The backlash was too much, and he switched schools and found himself accepted, finally.  

His profile grew, and he became one of the most famous people in the world.  He put a new face on HIV and served as a spokesperson.  Legislation in his name has been instrumental in helping individuals live with HIV and continues to make a difference today.

It makes you wonder if Ryan had the access to the kinds of medicine HIV patients are able to use today what kind of difference he would have made in society.  Unfortunately, we never got to know.

Ryan White died on April 8, 1990.  His funeral a few days later drew dignitaries and celebrities.  Michael Jackson attended and Elton John performed.  Ryan's mother, Jeanne, continues to keep his legacy alive.

Here we are 25 years later.  Ryan, you made a difference.

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