Ryan White CARE Act Turns 25

Today we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, signed in to law by President George H. W. Bush on August 18, 1990. Passed only a few months after the death of Ryan White, an HIV-positive 18-year-old from Indiana, this seminal legislation is the single largest federal program designed specifically for people living with HIV and AIDS in the U. S.

Ryan White-funded programs are credited with saving thousands of lives by ensuring medical care and other essential services to over half a million individuals and families each year who do not have adequate insurance coverage or personal assets to cope with the disease.

Harlem United runs seven successful programs funded by Ryan White, including transitional housing, food and nutrition, mental health services for young men who have sex with men, those in recovery and more.

Ryan White programs are known for their high impact on the health of the clients they serve. Harlem United’s Ryan White-funded programs are no different.

  • 100% of clients housed through December 2014 in our Ryan White transitional housing had at least one medical appointment in 2014, and 67% were virally suppressed (<200 copies per mL).
  • 12,441 congregate meals were served and 13,681 pantry bags were delivered in 2014 under our Ryan White-funded food and nutrition program.
  • More than half of our young men who have sex with men in our Ryan White-funded outreach program are linked to mental health services and care.

Sixty-year-old Nathaniel Commondore Sr. is a client in Harlem United’s Building Bridges program – a Ryan White-funded program that provides mental health and other services to people living with HIV/AIDS. Harlem United provides his housing as well. He tried a number of social service agencies before landing at Harlem United two years ago. “This is the one that works,” Commodore said. “They [Harlem United] really work for me. They check up on us, we get therapy, you can go to the dentist …Harlem United helps me maintain.”

Commondore, who has been HIV+ for 20 years and clean and sober for 22 years, says he is healthier than ever before, and now is an NA sponsor for 30 men and six women.

People living with HIV/AIDS who receive at least one HIV medical care visit through Ryan White have higher rates of retention in care and viral suppression. Delivering Ryan White-funded programs in an integrated care environment like Harlem United is a winning combination.

Some claim government programs are oft likely to fail. For the past quarter century, bipartisan congressional support for the Ryan White program is universally recognized as a national success story, though one that Ryan White himself did not live to see. Harlem United knows the value of this legislation and celebrates its role in securing the health of thousands of people living with HIV and AIDS.

To learn more about the 25th anniversary of the Ryan White Program, visit https://hab.hrsa.gov/ryanwhite25/