Celebrating 20 Years of Leadership and a Legacy of Care

Twenty years ago, the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act was passed into law. Few could have imagined in those early years that we would one day have treatments powerful enough to forestall the progression of HIV/AIDS or that the program would have touched so many lives.

Since inception, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program has evolved dramatically. From $220.55 million in FY 1991 to more than 2 billion in funding today.

The CARE Act initially included just three programs (Part A-C) and has since grown into a truly comprehensive—and sophisticated—health system. Today there are programs geared towards women, children, and communities of color as well as the original programs outlined in that first legislation.

As both the epidemic and our understanding of it has evolved, so too has the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program’s care offerings. From dental care to life-saving medications, from medical case management to nutritional therapy, the program strives to meet all of the health care needs of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Innovative initiatives are now funded to expand the HIV/AIDS Bureau’s (HAB) work in advancing care standards and training centers have been created to ensure today’s providers are prepared for tomorrow. As part of its mandate to treat the underserved, HAB is also leading the way in data collection and performance standards so that services—and funding—can be better targeted and more effective.

One consistency throughout these 20 years has been the program’s ability to adapt to change, to raise the bar, and to continue providing extraordinary care to people living with HIV/AIDS regardless of their ability to pay. In fact, this year alone, through scores of grantees and providers in cities and towns across America, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program will serve well over a half a million people.

Highlights from this year include:

  • At $2.29 billion, FY 2010 appropriations for the Program were the largest in Program history.
  • Our AIDS Education and Training Centers (AETCs) conducted more than 18,000 trainings.
  • Under the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, HAB distributed medications to more than 175,000 clients.
  • We treated the people most disproportionately affected by HIV: 73 percent of Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program clients were racial and ethnic minorities, and 88 percent of our clients had no private health insurance.
  • We conducted research on innovative, replicable models of HIV care to reduce health disparities in women of color, improve access to oral health care, establish linkages between jail settings and HIV primary care, and expand health information technology and electronic medical systems.
  • We were involved in the Healthy People 2010 broad-based national collaborative to meet the Nation’s most pressing health needs.
  • We continue to set the standard for HIV/AIDS care using well-respected performance measures.

This response to HIV/AIDS constitutes nothing less than a modern public health miracle. . . and a powerful and cohesive team seldom seen in combating a single disease.