pediatric housecalls Robert R. Jarrett M.D. M.B.A. FAAP

AIDS: The Legacy of Ryan White

This old video calls to our mind just how far we’ve come. We’re different now than we were – thanks heavens! I remember Ryan White but many of you might not. Some of the people in the video have been shown to be the fools that they were; but, unless we occasionally call to all of our minds what Ryan went through, we’re doomed to needlessly inflict the same bigotry in the next issue that comes along.

I Have AIDS: A Teenagers Story

A Boy With AIDS

Ryan White was a child born with hemophilia (a blood clotting disease) at the unfortunate time when the AIDS virus had become an epidemic. The treatment of his hemophilia with blood products gave him the AIDS virus through no fault of his own. His life was thrust into turmoil, but perhaps not so much because he had been given a terminal disease as because of the needless bigotry he had to endure.

Despite medical opinion and advice to the contrary, Ryan’s school district was more afraid of bigots than medical evidence. Some thought Ryan’s mother insensitive in putting Ryan through the litigation necessary to reverse the weak school board’s stance. Just the opposite was the case and we all owe the Whites a debt of gratitude. Their actions became the catalyst for better handling of blood products by the Red Cross and blood banks everywhere – people stopped getting AIDS from transfusions. Public awareness made the lives of those with the disease easier to live and congress got to hear the testimony of a brave, brave boy.

Thanks Ryan

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