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Issues

Women and AIDS

Women living with HIV/AIDS often place the needs of their families ahead of their own, including health care. Ryan White outreach and primary care programs empower these women to live longer, healthier lives and HRSA works to better educate providers to address the unique needs of this population.

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Gay Men

Gay men have been heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic. Gay men have helped lead the way towards creating high standards of culturally competent care and integral to the creation and direction of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.

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Cultural Competency

Culturally competent service providers are crucial to recruiting and retaining people living with HIV/AIDS into primary care, particularly when they are members of historically disenfranchised communities and populations such as people of color, gay men, women, and substance users.

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Confidentiality

Ryan White confidentiality guidelines have helped allay the fears that many people living with HIV have around unwanted disclosure and HIV discrimination.

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Treatment Advances

The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program ensures people living with HIV/AIDS have access to the latest treatments, including life-saving AIDS medications. Advances in vaccine and pharmaceutical research promise new ways to treat, and perhaps halt, HIV infection in the future.

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African-Americans

African-Americans are the racial and ethnic group most disproportionately affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. By providing culturally competent, comprehensive care the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program is committed to turning this tide.

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Aging

Wonderful advances in treatment have brought with them the promise of longer life for people living with HIV. The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program has been there, growing with the people it serves and ensuring that the program’s aging patients have many years of good health and happiness to look forward to, every step of the way.

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HIV/AIDS Stigma

Stigma represents one of the most complex and pervasive barriers to health care for people living with HIV/AIDS. From the beginning, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program has fought against the discrimination and isolation that stigma creates, a commitment that helps more people engage and remain in care.

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Rural Challenges

In rural America, unique challenges add to the complexity of providing care for people living with HIV/AIDS. The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program is, thus, a critical source of support in remote areas, helping patients overcome barriers to care as well as providing technical assistance for providers.

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Young People

Youth represent the only age group in the United States still experiencing increases in HIV diagnoses. The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program is working tirelessly to find ways of reaching more of these at-risk young people and providing the kind of comprehensive, responsive care that can change lives.

Young People and the History of the

Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program

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Mario Smith was just 18 years old, but he had plans for his life. After high school graduation, he was going to enlist in the Navy. He saw it as a way to lift himself out of poverty and get into college. The physical exam required as a part of the enlistment process, however, revealed that he had HIV. As he struggled to absorb the shocking news, Mario was terrified about what the diagnosis meant for his plans, his health, and his relationships with family and friends.

Breaking the news to his family was hard. His mother Teresa was devastated yet pledged her full support. “He is my son, and I didn’t want to lose him,” she says. “I was determined to love him and do everything I could to make sure he got the care and support he needed to stay healthy.”

That resolve brought Teresa and Mario to Detroit’s Horizons Project, a grantee of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Resources Services Administration’s (HRSA’s) HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB). Horizons, a highly acclaimed program that is part of the Wayne State University School of Medicine, provides services to HIV-positive and at-risk youth ages 13–24.

That Teresa had a place to take her son for youth-centered HIV care reflects one of the crowning achievements of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program: the capacity to build programs that reflect the changing demographics of HIV. At Horizons, Teresa and Mario encountered a comprehensive response to Mario’s needs as an HIV-positive young person. It is the kind of holistic program that no one could have imagined during the first years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Indeed, no one knew it would ever be needed.

HIV/AIDS: No One Is Immune

By 1982, the year that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created the term Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), cases had been reported among hemophiliacs and in a few women, infants, and recipients of blood transfusions. Yet the general public still perceived AIDS as a “gay man’s disease.”

That began to change in December 1984 when a teen from small-town Indiana was diagnosed with AIDS. Ryan White, a 13-year-old hemophiliac who contracted the HIV virus through a routine blood products treatment, spurred controversy because he fought tirelessly against HIV discrimination and stigma until his death from AIDS in April 1990. His public struggle helped to broaden America’s concept of what the face of AIDS looks like.

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