This page is to highlight our advocacy for Ending the HIV epidemic while amplifying lived experiences. We honor those who paved the way before us, reminding ourselves of the significance behind our work. Together, we persevere, driven by our commitment to make a difference. Keep on, keeping on!

Ryan White was 13 when he was diagnosed with AIDS after a blood transfusion in December 1984. Living in Kokomo, Indiana, doctors gave him six months to live. 

When Ryan tried to return to school, he faced AIDS-related discrimination in his Indiana community. Along with his mother Jeanne White Ginder, he rallied for his right to attend school. He gained national attention and became the face of public education about the disease.

Surprising his doctors, Ryan lived five years longer than expected. He died in April 1990, one month before his high school graduation. Congress passed the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act in August 1990.

Source: HRSA

The world was first introduced to Hydeia and her story when she appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1996. She was 12 years old. Hydeia had perinatally acquired HIV that quickly advanced to AIDS. She continued to be one of the brave faces of what people with lived experiences looked like. And until her dying day, she was still using her voice to advocate, teach and raise funding for advancing research. Her life is a testament to finding purpose through the pain.

Shawn Lang was a tenacious advocate for those who were marginalized – from survivors of domestic violence to persons living with HIV/AIDS and opioid addiction, to every letter in the LGBTQA+ community. As a long-time staff member of Advancing CT Together (formerly AIDS Connecticut), she left a tremendous imprint on the HIV/AIDS community, legislators, and colleagues throughout Connecticut and the nation.