Ohio marks World AIDS Day
Friday, December 1, 2023
Today marks the 35th anniversary of World AIDS Day. LGBTQ+ advocates in Cleveland have organized events that include educational seminars, HIV testing and panel discussions to discuss how far they have come in treating the disease and how much still needs to be done.
More than 40 million people have died of AIDS since it burst onto the public health scene in the 1980s. In Ohio, more than 24,000 people live with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and nearly a thousand new cases are reported every year.
Ryan White grew up in central Indiana and contracted HIV during a blood transfusion at age 13. White's mother, Jeanne White-Ginder, said Ryan became the public face of AIDS in the 1980s as he fought the disease, discrimination and for his right to attend school.
"That is so important that we remember all the people who got us to where we are today, because they are no longer here," said White-Ginder. "And I'm not just talking about Ryan, because Ryan was the 'face,' but there are so many people that did all the work."
Just five weeks after Ryan's death in 1990, Congress passed the bipartisan Ryan White CARE Act, which helps more people get tested for HIV and offers assistance to patients in all stages of the disease.
White-Ginder pointed out that AIDS affects people from all walks of life and is not limited to the gay community.
"A gay person has it, a straight person has it, a blood transfusion person has it - it was for everybody," she asserted. "Once you have AIDS, you're just like everybody else who has AIDS - you're fighting to stay alive. And people fought to stay alive, and people dedicated their lives to get us to where we are today."
White would have turned 52 next week. The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland holds events all day, downtown.
Reporting by Ohio News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.
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