My name is Ryan White. I am sixteen years old. I have hemophilia, and I have AIDS.
Because of the lack of education on AIDS, discrimination, fear, panic, and lies surrounded me.
Most recently my battle has been against AIDS and the discrimination surrounding it.
I came face to face with death at thirteen years old.
The desire to move into a bigger house, to avoid living AIDS daily, and a dream to be accepted by a community and school, became possible and a reality with a movie about my life, The Ryan White Story.
Rumors of sneezing, kissing, tears, sweat, and saliva spreading AIDS caused people to panic.
I was labeled a troublemaker, my mom an unfit mother, and I was not welcome anywhere.
The school I was going to said they had no guidelines for a person with AIDS.
On December 17, 1984, I had surgery to remove two inches of my left lung due to pneumonia. After two hours of surgery the doctors told my mother I had AIDS.
This brought on the news media, TV crews, interviews, and numerous public appearances.
Eventually, I won the right to attend school, but the prejudice was still there.
Twice a week I would receive injections or IV's of Factor VIII which clotted the blood and then broke it down.
Financial hardships were rough on us, even though Mom had a good job at G.M.
The first five to six years of my life were spent in and out of the hospital.
People would get up and leave so they would not have to sit anywhere near me.
Listening to medical facts was not enough. People wanted one hundred percent guarantees.
My studies are important to me. I made the honor role just recently, with 2 A's and 2 B's.
I'm just one of the kids, and all because the students at Hamilton Heights High School listened to the facts, educated their parents and themselves, and believed in me.
AIDS can destroy a family if you let it, but luckily for my sister and me, Mom taught us to keep going. Don't give up, be proud of who you are, and never feel sorry for yourself.
Mayor Koch, of New York, was the first public figure to give me support.
A lot of my time was spent searching, thinking and planning my life.
I spent Christmas and the next thirty days in the hospital.
I received thousands of letters of support from all around the world, all because I wanted to go to school.
Entertainers, athletes, and stars started giving me support.
How could these people in the public eye not be afraid of me, but my whole town was?
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