When a disease, especially an infectious one, is not fully understood, it often starts a confusion of massive scale among the society.

When there was no immediate treatment available, people began selling pseudo-medicine with outrageous efficacy claims despite the lack of scientific data.

Things turn from bad to worse when irresponsible individuals start to blame certain minorities in society. The infected become outcasts and are forced into isolation.

It happened once in the United States during the early years of the AIDS outbreak. There still isn’t an effective cure for the condition, but the situation was so bleak that the infected were hated back then.

This is the story of Ryan Hall, a young man who contracted AIDS from blood transfusion to treat hemophilia A, a rare disorder that impairs the body’s ability to make blood clots.

Facing persecution from society at home and school, Ryan persevered through the ordeal until his body couldn’t handle it anymore.

Ryan died at a young age, but his legacy in shifting the narrative around the disease continues to live on.

10 /10 Born With Hemophilia A

Ryan White was born with a rare genetic disorder known as hemophilia A, rendering his blood system unable to clot normally.

Each time a hemophiliac suffers an injury, even a mild one like a small cut and scrape, the bleeding doesn’t quickly stop, and bruising injury may even cause internal bleeding.

Ryan frequently used “Factor VIII,” a blood-clotting agent created using plasma taken from thousands of donors to cope with the condition. Such treatment prevents hemophiliac bleeding episodes from causing severe damages to organs.


9 /10 A Fever Of 104 Degrees

Ryan was a sickly child throughout the summer and fall of 1984. He suffered from recurrent diarrhea, exhaustion, chronic night sweats, and stomach cramps when he was 12.

When he turned 13, the conditions turned for the worse by December. At one point, Ryan told his mother, Jeanne, about how he had not been able to get off the school bus without being exhausted.

When Ryan ran a fever of 104 degrees, Jeanne took her son to a local hospital in Kokomo, Indiana, where doctors treated him for antibiotic-resistant pneumonia.

8 /10 Viral Pneumonia

Ryan was transferred to the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis after the treatment. Medical specialists in the facility gave a distressful diagnosis stating that his pneumonia was viral instead of bacterial.

Doctors at Riley had a suspicion about Ryan acquiring pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) from a contaminated blood-clotting agent. A biopsy confirmed the doctors’ fear, and it also essentially meant Ryan had AIDS.

In the old days, PCP from blood transfusion was considered an exception rather than a probability, and medical science still didn’t know much about AIDS either.

Wikimedia Commons

7 /10 Six Months To Live

The diagnosis came in December 1984, but Ryan probably had contracted the disease for the first time in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

Doctors predicted that Ryan could only live for six more months at best following the diagnosis. Despite the devastating news, the young boy overcame his first illness and wanted to return to school.

Unfortunately, the Western School Corporation (which included Ryan’s hometown of Kokomo) would not allow such a thing and instead forced him to listen to his 7th-grade classes through the phone.


6 /10 Cruel Rejection

Ryan White was a student at the Western Middle School Russiaville, Indiana.

Many students, parents, teachers, and school officials insisted on the possibility that Ryan might transmit HIV by casual physical contacts like a handshake or handling items he had touched earlier in the day.

After a series of lengthy heated debates, the Indiana Department of Education finally came to rule that Ryan White must be admitted to classes. A good call from the department, but things didn’t go exactly as expected.

5 /10 Harrowing Experiences

Other students shunned Ryan at school, and vandals expressed their foolishness by breaking his window. When his mother was at the supermarket, the cashiers refused to touch her hands when accepting payment.

Although not everyone was so cruel and oblivious of his struggle, life became a harrowing experience for Ryan and his family. In 1987, the family could not take the persecution in Kokomo and decided to move to Cicero, Indiana.

Ryan enrolled at Hamilton Heights School. The principal welcomed him with a handshake and encouraged everyone to engage in academic discussions about HIV/AIDS.

4 /10 A Spokesman For People With AIDS

During the years that followed, Ryan White was like an antidote to counteract the prejudice towards people with AIDS. It was when the nation took on combat against misinformation about AIDS and how HIV was transmitted.

In an ocean of unfounded fears in the society, Ryan White suddenly transformed into an articulate spokesperson not only to people around him but also to journalists and the American public.

Ryan also made the case to fix the national blood supply by testing every blood donation for HIV.


3 /10 Desire To Be A Regular Kid

Two of the largest groups of people infected with AIDS were intravenous drug users and gay men. Ryan argued valiantly against the bigotry every chance he had.

He repeatedly said that AIDS was an infectious disease that could infect anyone careless enough to put themselves at risk.

Big-name celebrities and politicians were on his side, including Michael Jackson, Elton John, Ronald Reagan, and Donald Trump.

Despite his popularity, Ryan said he would be willing to trade the fame with a clean bill of health so he could be a regular kid again.

2 /10 Difficulty Swallowing

Ryan was one of the guests at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles in March 1990. However, at that time, his condition had been in a sharp decline for the last couple of months.

A few days after the ceremony, Ryan was admitted again to Riley Hospital for Children in Indiana for difficulty swallowing.

His health plummeted until his respiratory system eventually gave up on April 8, 1990. He was given just six months to live when the diagnosis came up, and he kept on fighting for six years instead.


1 /10 Ryan White CARE ACT

In August 1990, or four months after Ryan White passed away, President George H.W. Bush signed a bipartisan bill known as the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act.

Today, it is still active legislation providing some level of care for up to half a million people each year – specifically those in the low-income group, both uninsured and underinsured – and funds for more than 2,500 organizations.

Today, people with AIDS can live long, productive lives when given access to anti-retroviral drugs.

Continue Reading

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *