By using the NAMES Project as window into the past, we can learn that the past and modern terms are not so different. We can use the knowledge and opinions of the HIV/AIDS epidemic to help our own modern crises, especially when dealing with the stigmatization of such crises.
Stony Brook University was at the forefront of HIV/Aids research and education during the late 1980’s through now. Its focus on educating the public through classes, research efforts, AIDS Awareness Day, and free HIV tests helped to lessen the stigma surrounding those infected with the disease. Today, we need other institutions and researchers to provide similar resources to the public to help destigmatize our own medical crisis: opioid addiction. Through educational programs, news articles and research, we can help those suffering from addiction and the families and friends who watch them suffer.
Jeanne Elaine White, Ryan White’s mother said, “The biggest contribution I think that Ryan made is… that his legacy would be…that people are living with AIDS.” Although death is sometimes, tragically, inevitable, the stigmatization surrounding health crises must be stopped, so that people can get the help that they need and deserve.