Today, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Ryan White CARE Act. Ryan White is the largest source of federal funding solely devoted to the provision of medical and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and their families. Ryan White supports PLWHA at each stage of their illness, helping them to remain in care, take their medications and stay healthy. It has become the gold standard of comprehensive, holistic care for people living with severe and chronic disease, mostly because, in the age of healthcare reform, Ryan White was the first program to recognize the vital role of structural interventions, like housing, transportation and especially access to nutritious food, as key determinants of health.
The Food and Nutrition (FNS) category is an integral part of the Ryan White program. The program created through this legislation is now arguably the most robust FNS program in the country for people living with severe and chronic illness. Here at God’s Love, we know that food and nutrition services are key to the health and well-being of PLWHA. How amazing is it that federal legislation recognizes the power of food and medicine and food as love? God’s Love has been supported by Ryan White funding since 1991. As our client’s needs have changed, so have our program offerings to meet those needs.
It is with profound gratitude that we remember those who fought so diligently for the existence of Ryan White legislation as well as those who have benefitted so mightily from the programs supported by it. We remember Ryan White himself, that brave young man who put a face on a frightening pandemic, and moved the country to acknowledge that action had to be taken. And looking back over 30 years of service to PLWHA, we know that we must summon the same passion and drive to guarantee that this vital stream of support, that has lifted the lives of so many, continues for many years well into the future.