Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Remembering Ryan White…in spite of Tiger Woods…

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Unfortunately, with all hoopla over Tiger Woods, a very important anniversary may have passed by had I not caught the news piece broadcast by ABC World News Now at 3:00AM April 8th, 2010…for this was the 20th Anniversary of the death of Ryan White…

It was a very sad day when this 18 year old Kokomo, Indiana high school student, passed away April 8, 1990. For quite some time prior, I had religiously followed the story of this young man, a hemophiliac, who in 1984 had been diagnosed with HIV / AIDS due to the administration of a Factor 8 blood transfusion which was a popular treatment at the time for his type of illness. In the early days of AIDS / HIV, blood banks did not screen donations for the virus and thus there are many cases of people contracting the illness early on. Ryan White happened to be a special young man, who despite his grim prognosis, wanted nothing special.  While his doctors gave him only several months to live, even so, he decided to go to school like a normal teenager.

Lawsuits were filed, AIDS / HIV and all the stereotypical myths surrounding this dreaded disease that existed at that time where brought to the forefront of mainstream media as they had never been before. Since AIDS / HIV had only been identified three years prior by the Center for Disease Control, almost a medieval terror cast down its gauntlet challenging the mid 1980′s moral fiber of American society. Americans, particularly the religious right had pegged AIDS / HIV as solely a gay or IV drug user disease and thus in their eyes it was a punishment from God – even though the CDC had a good idea concerning how the virus was transmitted, ignorance was the order of the day…it was ugly and in my opinion inexcusable…to put it bluntly.

Grocery store owners destroyed food where AIDS victims had been in contact, in Ryan’s case he was spit on, kept from attending high school for nearly two years, had gun shots fired in front of his family home, words like “Fag” were written on his school locker, yet stalwart Ryan White stricken with a death sentence during the Dark Ages of AIDS awareness, took all this abuse with a grain of salt…caring only to convey the facts about AIDS / HIV and AIDS patients.

Despite his grim prognosis and all the abuse that the negative aspects of Indiana society could dump on him, this very unlikely and unlucky boy grew quickly into a very powerful young man and quickly he became the poster child for AIDS / HIV patients of all creeds, colors, sexual orientation, ages, sex, etc.

His love for life helped him outlive his grim prognosis by several fold…rather than living only several months, Ryan White lived several years and in direct contrast to the abuse he endured in his mid-West home, he befriended celebrities including: Elton John, Michael Jackson and Phil Donohue.

The day of Ryan White’s death, his family and Elton John were at his Riley Hospital for Children bedside. Since he had contracted the Aids virus as an early teen, he never grew and while aged 18, he weighed a mere 80 lbs and was a scant five foot tall – yet even to this day, he is such a giant amongst humanity.  If Ryan White had lived he would be 38…I can guarantee that the world would be a better place…that there would be less discrimination, less internet bullying, less hate crimes…more understanding…and maybe, we would care just a little bit less about the Tiger Woods Redux Rehash Part 2.

Just four months after the death of Ryan White (1971-1990) the United States Congress passed the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act on August 18, 1990.  Since then the act has been reauthorized in 1996, 2000 and 2006, while providing various levels of ‘payer of last resort’ care for 500,000 AIDS / HIV patients. The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 was signed October 30, 2009, by President Barrack H. Obama while in the presence of Jeanne White, Nancy Pelosi, Jimmy Carter, Barbara Lee, amongst others.

President Barrack H. Obama signs the Ryan White Extension Act of 2009

Ryan White deserves to be remembered for his strength and the sacrifices he made to grow up as a normal young person.  If you are interested in donation to AIDS / HIV research, this website is affiliated with Ryan White…..