White DE version 2

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

How Did I Just Hear About This?

Fifteen years ago there was a 19 year old Indiana boy that died of AIDS. You've probably heard of and forgotten about him a thousand times. Ryan White had been recieving treatments with a blood-based product called Factor VIII to help fight his hemophelia and was diagnosed after a surgery to remove part of his lung in 1984. In the mid 80's, HIV and AIDS were largely misunderstood and frightened most people beyond reason. He was expelled from his school and endured endless torment in his community. He was finally allowed back to school, but only allowed to use disposable dishes and silverware and was barred from using the same restrooms as the rest of the school...restaurants would throw dishes and utensils that he used away after he touched them. His locker and home were vandalized...even shot at.

That's a lot of backstory. When Ryan White died in 1990, Congress passed the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act. It was and still is most funded federal program, save Medicaid and Medicare, that cares for people living with HIV/AIDS. It was a huge step for this country and has helped millions of people. This Friday, though, that program expires. To date, Congress has taken no action to extend this program.

This Saturday The Campaign to End AIDS and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago will be taking to the streets...namely Michigan Avenue...in Chicago. Advocates will be on every street corner talking to pedestrians and there will be a rally at Water Tower Park focusing on the reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act and Bush's plans to remove millions of dollars in funding from urban areas most affectes by HIV/AIDS. If you are in the area this weekend, stop by and show your support...Even better, contact your representatives and tell them that we need this funding.

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