Ryan White (December 6, 1971 - April 8, 1990) was a teenager from Kokomo, Indiana in the 1980s, who drew national and, eventually, worldwide attention due to his infection with HIV. It has been speculated that the reason White got so much attention was that he was a heterosexual white middle class boy who was not part of any of the regular minority groups stigmatized by the disease.
Ryan became infected with HIV from blood products as part of his treatment for hemophilia. As a result, he was expelled from school for being a health risk to other students. His situation became a cause célèbre in North America with AIDS activists lobbying to have him reinstated while attempting to explain to the public that AIDS cannot be transmitted by casual contact. Eventually, Ryan was transferred to another school in neighboring Cicero, Indiana, where he was received as a celebrity by a faculty and students who were fully educated into the nature of HIV.
Before he died, he worked to educate people on the nature of HIV and AIDS, to show that it was not a gay disease and that with a few precautions, it was safe to associate with people who were HIV-positive. Being outside the stigmatized "normal" groups allowed him to become a poster boy for HIV infection in North America.
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Last updated: 08-26-2005 04:37:19