The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced on Saturday, Oct. 31 that it will award $2.2 billion to the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program for the fiscal year, 2015-2016 so as to help states, organizations and local communities in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The awarded fund is a testament of the agency's support to the coordinated and in-depth care system to guarantee that essential care tools, services and medicines continue to be available to more than 500,000 people diagnosed Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in the U.S.
The HHS department responsible for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program is the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which offers varied care and treatments that assist and maximize favorable prognosis as part of a U.S. public health response to the disease.
"Over the last quarter century, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program has played a critical role in the United States' public health response to HIV," said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. She added that the funds will instigate a change among the most vulnerable populations, who have insufficient medical care coverage or finances.
James Macrae, acting administrator of HRSA said that in the last 25 years, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program has paved the way for patients to move across the HIV care continuum, which is a strategy that aids communities in planning and providing emergency and long-term health services. He added that 81 percent of the patients under the program were preserved in care and 78 percent were virally subdued. "This improves clinical and public health outcomes by preserving health, extending life expectancy, and reducing HIV transmission."
Ryan White was a 13-year-old student, who was kicked out of his Indiana school after being diagnosed with AIDS in 1984. He contracted the disease after undergoing transfusion of contaminated blood. His doctors told him that he had six months to live but surprisingly survived for another six years.
During the 1980s, little was known about AIDS. Aside from that, social stigma was very strong hence, the school feared that White could cause health risks to his fellow students, teachers and other school staff.
At present, medical professionals believe that White would not pose hazards to other students due to his disease. HIV and AIDS is stereotyped to be a disease for homesexual males. White's story contributed to breaking this stigma.
After 25 years, Ryan White continues to live on and help raise awareness and funds in the battle against HIV and AIDS.
Photo: Ted Eytan | Flickr