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Boston EMA Ryan White Planning Council

The Boston Eligible Metropolitan Area (EMA) Ryan White HIV/AIDS Services Planning Council is an independent, volunteer-based, federally-mandated planning body appointed by the Mayor of Boston. The Planning Council integrally works with the Boston Public Health Commission to select and prioritize HIV service categories and allocate Ryan White Part A HIV funding in our region. 

The mission of the Planning Council is to improve the quality of the lives of persons with HIV/AIDS by responding to their existing and emerging needs. This is accomplished by supporting and encouraging a range of culturally appropriate health and social services. Moreover, the Council efficiently responds to the changing face of the epidemic with regards to all affected sub-populations and impacted regions within the Boston EMA. 

The Boston Eligible Metropolitan Area includes:

  • seven counties in Massachusetts (Bristol, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk, and Worcester), and
  • three in New Hampshire (Hillsborough, Rockingham, and Strafford).

 join us today!

History of the Ryan White Program

Who was Ryan White?

Ryan Wayne White (December 6, 1971 – April 8, 1990) was an American teenager from Kokomo, Indiana. He became a national poster child for HIV/AIDS in the United States, when his middle school expelled him due to his infection. Ryan was a hemophiliac and became infected with HIV from a contaminated blood treatment. When diagnosed in December 1984, doctors gave him six months to live. They said he posed no risk to other students. However, AIDS wasn't well understood and when White tried to return to school, many parents and teachers rallied against his attendance. Before White, AIDS was a disease widely associated with the male homosexual community.

A lengthy legal battle with the school system ensued. Media coverage of the case made White into a national celebrity and spokesman for AIDS research and public education. He appeared frequently in the media with celebrities such as Elton John, Michael Jackson, and Phil Donahue. White lived five years longer than predicted and died in April 1990, one month before his high school graduation.


The U.S. Congress passed the Ryan White Care Act, shortly after White's death. Ryan White programs are the largest provider of services for people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States.

The act is the United States' largest federally funded program for people living with HIV/AIDS. The act improves availability of care for low-income, uninsured, and under-insured people AIDS victims and their families.

Unlike Medicare or Medicaid, Ryan White programs fund treatment when no other resources are available. As AIDS has spread, the funding of the program has increased. The Ryan White Care Act was reauthorized in 1996, 2000, 2006, and 2009. The program provides some level of care for more than 500,000 people a year. The Ryan White programs fund local and state primary medical care providers, support services, healthcare provider training programs, and provide these organizations with technical assistance.

Ryan White Parts

Part A provides emergency assistance to Eligible Metropolitan Areas (EMA) and Transitional Grant Areas (TGA) severely affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Part B provides grants to all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 5 U.S. Pacific Territories or Associated Jurisdictions.

Part C provides comprehensive primary health care in an outpatient setting for people living with HIV.

Part D provides family-centered care involving outpatient or ambulatory care for women, infants, children, and youth with HIV/AIDS.

Part F​ provides funds for a variety of programs:

About the Planning Council

The Ryan White Treatment Modernization Act allows municipalities to form HIV Health Services Planning Councils. These councils implement services for persons with HIV/AIDS. Councils members include:

  • representatives from health and social service providers
  • public health officials
  • AIDS service organizations
  • affected community members including HIV positive individuals

Part A mandates a Planning Council to provide guidance on allocating funds. Boston already had a body well suited to become the eventual Planning Council: The Steering Committee of the Boston AIDS Consortium (BAC).

The Chief Elected Official of the EMA's largest city appoints the members of the Boston Ryan White Planning Council. The Mayor is the CEO of the EMA’s largest city and grantee for Ryan White Part A funds. Legislation charges the Ryan White Planning Council with the following responsibilities:

  • Develop a comprehensive plan for the organization and delivery of HIV-related health services
  • Establish service priorities for the categorical allocation of Part A funds
  • Assess the efficiency of the administrative mechanism in rapidly allocating funds
  • Assess the effectiveness of services
  • Participate in the development of the Statewide Coordinated Statement of Need (SCSN)
  • Establish methods for obtaining input on community needs and priorities. This may include public meetings, conducting focus groups, and convening ad-hoc panels

The Council does not directly fund or contract with agencies to provide client services. BPHC's Administrative Lead Agent handles contracting with agencies to acquire services for people living with HIV/AIDS. The Council evaluates how well the Administrative Lead Agent performs in contracting services.

Planning Council Support staff conduct various recruitment activities. They recruit new members through mailings, site visits, and personal conversations. The Nominations Committee reviews applications and makes recommendations to the Mayor. The Mayor reviews, approves, and makes the official appointments. Appointed members must:

  • Examine the HIV epidemic and the current healthcare system in the Boston EMA through a biannual Needs Assessment and Funding Streams Analysis
  • Assist in planning for the HIV health care service needs of the Boston EMA
  • Determine service priorities for the Boston EMA
  • Vote on the types of services funded and the level of funds
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