I can remember it clearly as if it were just yesterday. Three years ago I moved to a new city, Nashville, having lost my house in Florida, with no insurance, no doctor, and finding it difficult to maintain a healthy life. I walked into Nashville CARES on a Saturday afternoon. The agency was closed, however they opened the doors that day for me, did an intake and had me seeing a doctor and back on meds within 24 hours.
I was uninsured and unemployed, but Ryan White was there to help me see doctors and help me continue with medication. Because of Ryan White I was also able to receive counseling and treatment for a drug addiction I had had for many years. Today, because of Ryan White I am clean of drugs for over three years and can honestly say I will never do drugs again. The food bank that is provided by Ryan White is always available to me and helps me stay healthy.
Because of Ryan White I was able to volunteer my time and eventually go back to work part-time with Nashville CARES. I now have the opportunity to be a peer mentor to HIV/AIDS patients. I help educate, counsel, and support men and women like me so that they can live a fulfilled life with HIV/AIDS.
Because of Ryan White and Nashville CARES, I am alive today.
The death rate among adults with an HIV diagnosis in Tennessee is almost 25 percent higher than the national average. The State of Tennessee is considering a form of Medicaid expansion, but has not yet expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. As a result, an estimated 2,000 of the lowest-income people with HIV have been left out of coverage available in other states. They must rely on Ryan White funding for crucial medical care and other supportive services. In 2011, an estimated 12,336 Tennessee residents received services through Ryan White.
Read other stories of people impacted by Ryan White Care Act.
Take action now!
- Tell your legislators to continue to support the Ryan White program.
- Do you live in a state that has not expanded Medicaid? Let your legislators know how important Medicaid expansion is to your state.
- Check out advocacy tools and resources for Ryan White in Tennessee.
Co-sponsors: AIDS United, Southern AIDS Strategy Initiative, Southern AIDS Coalition, Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School, HIVHealthReform.org, HIV Prevention Justice Alliance, and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.
This campaign has been made possible by the generous support of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.