" When I found out I was HIV-positive, I was angry. I thought my life was over and my trust was gone.
But then somebody told me about Ryan White. "
Luisa was 17 and newly married when she learned her husband had HIV and had infected her. A year later, he was dead. When she moved to Denver, she connected with a social worker who is still part of her life.
Now, the 24-year-old mother of two receives care at La Clinica Tepayac, a Denver provider serving primarily Hispanic clients.
In Bremerton, a tiny Washington town across the Puget Sound, Brian lived with HIV and stayed healthy without medication until 2007. But then, he became gravely ill and ended up in the hospital. "My doctors and friends were sure I wasn't going to make it," he said.
The trip from Bremerton to Seattle for health care can take two hours by ferry and the round trip, including the office visit, can take eight hours, a hardship for patients who are ill. So the Seattle Harborview Medical Center opened a satellite clinic with the help of Ryan White program funds. Today, Brian is a patient at the Bremerton satellite clinic, where he receives care and advice. His friends have become involved in his care and meet with his case manager to ensure that he follows his doctor's advice.
Both of these people are living with HIV and both have benefitted from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program that provides health care, medications and other services to people with HIV who otherwise might go without.
Between 1,039,000 and 1,185,000 people in the U.S. were living with HIV/AIDS in 2003, the most recent year for which estimates are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This year, more than 530,000 will receive needed medical and dental care, life-sustaining medications, and support services, such as transportation, translation, and patient education, through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.
Most have no health insurance or too little, and no other way to pay for care. Many also lack the social and family support that is essential for coping with such a debilitating and stigmatized disease.