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.
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.
Rumors of sneezing, kissing, tears, sweat, and saliva spreading AIDS caused people to panic.
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.
People would get up and leave so they would not have to sit anywhere near me.
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.
Twice a week I would receive injections or IV's of Factor VIII which clotted the blood and then broke it down.
Mayor Koch, of New York, was the first public figure to give me support.
The first five to six years of my life were spent in and out of the hospital.
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.
Financial hardships were rough on us, even though Mom had a good job at G.M.
Listening to medical facts was not enough. People wanted one hundred percent guarantees.
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.
Entertainers, athletes, and stars started giving me support.
Eventually, I won the right to attend school, but the prejudice was still there.
Given six months to live and being the fighter that I am, I set high goals for myself.
How could these people in the public eye not be afraid of me, but my whole town was?
I believe in myself as I look forward to graduating from Hamilton Heights High School in 1991.
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