Uncovered: Trump saved Indiana boy’s life in 1984, voters touched
Donald Trump wasn’t thinking about running for President in 1984, but his heart was in the right place for one young boy’s struggle with HIV and AIDS.
Ryan White was infected with HIV when he was only 13 years old. He had hemophilia, a blood-clotting disease that meant he needed to get blood transfusions all through his childhood. In the 1980s, HIV was a new disease and no one yet knew to screen donated blood. Ryan White was one of the first people in the US to talk openly about having HIV and became famous in the US and all over the world. He bravely fought to educate others about HIV and against the stigma and discrimination HIV-positive people often face.
In 1984, Ryan’s high school in Kokomo, Indiana, learned about his status. They refused to let him return to the school for fear that he would infect other students. Ryan was only allowed to participate in classroom activities by telephone. His family fought the superintendent’s decision in court and Ryan was able to return to school after a judge ruled in his favor. He was tormented when he returned to school. Students frequently insulted him and wrote degrading statements on his locker. His family faced discrimination as well. Store clerks refused to hand his mother change because they didn’t want to touch her. Restaurants threw away plates and silverware after the White family ate there. Someone even fired a gun into a window of the family’s home.
In 1987 the Whites moved to Cicero, Indiana, so Ryan could attend a school that would not discriminate against him. Instead, the school board held conferences for parents and students to educate the community about HIV/AIDS and to encourage compassion rather than fear and discrimination. A student at Ryan’s new high school later said, “When he first came a lot of people were really scared, but Ryan helped all of us to understand.” In 1988, Ryan spoke at the President’s Commission
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