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The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, the largest Federal program focused exclusively on HIV/AIDS care, addresses the unmet health needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) by funding primary health care and support services that enhance access to and retention in care. First enacted by Congress in 1990, it has been amended and reauthorized three times: in 1996, 2000, and 2006. The most recent reauthorization retitled the legislation as the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act of 2006.
Like many health problems, HIV/AIDS disproportionately strikes people in poverty, racial/ethnic populations, and others who are underserved by healthcare and prevention systems. HIV/AIDS often leads to poverty due to costly healthcare or an inability to work that is often accompanied by a loss of employer-related health insurance. Ryan White-funded programs are the "payer of last resort." They fill gaps in care not covered by other resources. Most likely users of Ryan White services include people with no other source of healthcare and those with Medicaid or private insurance whose care needs are not being fully met.
Ryan White services are intended to reduce the use of more costly inpatient care, increase access to care for underserved populations, and improve the quality of life for those affected by the epidemic. Ryan White works toward these goals by funding local and State programs that provide core medical services and support services; healthcare provider training; and technical assistance to help funded programs address implementation and emerging HIV care issues.
Ryan White provides for significant local and State control of HIV/AIDS healthcare planning and service delivery. This has led to many innovative and practical approaches to the delivery of care for PLWHA.
The Health Resources and Services Administrationís (HRSA) HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB) has lead responsibility for implementing the program. HRSA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HRSA/HAB provides funded programs with ongoing policy guidance (including Guiding Principles to address evolving challenges in HIV care) and technical assistance to enhance their operations.