The Ryan White Story

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The Ryan White Story: Fear or the Crossing of Ethical Boundaries

HCS/435 – Ethics: Health Care and Social Responsibility

April 19, 2010

Professor: Beryl Keegan

The Ryan White Story: Fear or the Crossing of Ethical Boundaries

Throughout history, there have been several conflicts between ethics and medical research. New diseases have arose in the population, and to learn as much as one can about each disease, the symptoms, causes, effects, and possible treatment, ethical barriers are crossed to increase knowledge and understanding. In the long run, who is hurt the most, the patient, or the researcher?

Ryan White, born in December 1971, was diagnosed at six days old with severe hemophilia, a disease where the blood does not clot. Thirteen years later, Ryan was diagnosed with full blown acquired immune deficiency disorder, also known as AIDS. He suffered years of ridicule and prejudice against him, because the public did not understand the disorder. He was not allowed to attend school, yet years after his death, he is still teaching us and working towards removing the prejudice against AIDS and HIV, and his legacy lives on.

AIDS is the final stage of the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, a medical condition brought on by the extreme weakening of the immune system by HIV. HIV, unlike other viruses, gradually attacks the cells of the immune system, making it extremely difficult for the body to fight off disease. AIDS is diagnosed when a person develops an opportunistic infection or an AIDS related cancer, or when the number of immune system cells, also called CD4 and T cells, drops below a certain number. Some opportunistic infections include cervical cancer that is invasive, encephalitis, and recurring salmonella septicemia (University of California, San Francisco 2002 – 2010). As of today, there is no cure for AIDS or HIV; however, there are certain medications that are effective in fighting the complications of HIV. These treatments are...