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Youth With AIDS Is Greeted Warmly at New High School

September 01, 1987|Associated Press

ARCADIA, Ind. — Ryan White's anxiety about going to a new high school vanished quickly Monday, as fellow students and school officials gave the young AIDS patient a warm welcome.

"Everybody was real nice and friendly," said Ryan, 15, after his first half-day of classes at Hamilton Heights High School. "I was terribly nervous."

The welcome stood in sharp contrast to the reception he got two years ago, when he was barred from Western Middle School, near Kokomo, because officials feared he could pass the disease to other youngsters.

A judge disagreed and ruled that Ryan, a hemophiliac, should be readmitted, but some people withdrew their children from the school and Ryan became the target of name-calling and demonstrations. Earlier this year, the family moved to Cicero, about 20 miles north of Indianapolis, in search of a more open environment.

Ryan is believed to have contracted the AIDS virus from medication he took for hemophilia. He missed the first week of classes because of illness. He has been taking the the experimental AIDS drug AZT and his mother, Jeanne White, said, "He's doing well on it, he's more alert."

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