Ryan White

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Ryan Wayne White (December 6, 1971 – April 8, 1990)[1] was an American teenager from Kokomo, Indiana who became a national poster child for HIV/AIDS in the United States, after being expelled from middle school because of his infection. A hemophiliac, he became infected with HIV from a contaminated blood treatment and, when diagnosed in December 1984, was given six months to live. Doctors said he posed no risk to other students, but AIDS was poorly understood at the time, and when White tried to return to school, many parents and teachers in Kokomo rallied against his attendance[2]. A lengthy legal battle with the school system ensued, and media coverage of the case made White into a national celebrity and spokesman for AIDS research and public education. He appeared frequently in the media with celebrities such as Elton John, Michael Jackson and Phil Donahue. Surprising his doctors, White lived five years longer than predicted and died in April 1990, one month prior to his high school graduation.

Before White, AIDS was a disease widely associated with the male homosexual community, because it was first diagnosed there. That perception shifted as White and other prominent HIV-infected people, such as Magic Johnson, the Ray brothers and Kimberly Bergalis, appeared in the media to advocate for more AIDS research and public education to address the epidemic. The U.S. Congress passed a major piece of AIDS legislation, the Ryan White Care Act, shortly after White's death. The Act was reauthorized in 2006 and again on October 30, 2009; Ryan White Programs are the largest provider of services for people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States.

Contents

Early life and illness

Ryan White was born at St. Joseph Memorial Hospital in Kokomo, Indiana, to Jeanne Elaine Hale and Hubert Wayne White. When he was six days old, doctors diagnosed him with severe Hemophilia A, a hereditary blood coagulation disorder associated with the x chromosome, which causes even minor injuries to result in severe bleeding. For treatment, he received weekly transfusions of Factor VIII, a blood product created from pooled plasma of non-hemophiliacs, an increasingly common treatment for hemophiliacs at the time.[3]

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