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World AIDS Day marked through remembrance
of Ryan White

12-1-09 Feature Story:

Following is an excerpt from a statement issued by HRSA Administrator Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N., on World AIDS Day.

Today, December 1, we join with our neighbors around the world in observing World AIDS Day.

We remember family members, friends, colleagues and those unknown to us who have lost their fight against AIDS. And we offer encouragement and support to those who live
                                                                                                         with the disease, and to the special individuals
                                                                                                         who dedicate their lives to caring for them.

We remember Ryan White, the young Indiana teenager who contracted the virus through a blood transfusion for his hemophilia and died at age 19. In his brief but profound life, he became a national advocate and educator for HIV awareness and compassion, fighting fear, stigma and discrimination.

His legacy is HRSA's Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, a lifeline of care, medications and services for hundreds of thousands of Americans each year who otherwise would have no care.

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Ryan White Program, we are encouraged by the significant strides we've made in saving and improving the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS. This would not be possible without our many grantees and providers in every corner of the country and beyond. We wouldn't have life-saving medications and infants wouldn't be born HIV-free. Together, we give quality health care and compassion to those who need it most...those who have no hope without our support.

On October 30, President Obama signed the bill reauthorizing the Ryan White Program for the next four years. On this World AIDS Day, I encourage you to recommit to doing your part to help educate others about this disease and to break down barriers of fear, stigma and discrimination. We've made great progress, but much remains to be done.

Thank you today and everyday for the tireless work you do - both publicly and privately - to improve the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS.

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