HIV/AIDS

1 May

As part of our DTS curriculum, we spend time each week educating ourselves on injustices in the world and people whose voices have been muffled in society. This week the focus was on HIV/AIDS. I did some quick research online, and this is what I found:

-There are over 40 million people living with HIV or AIDS worldwide.

-Here in the U.S., nearly 1 million people have HIV or AIDS. This is roughly one out of every 250 people.

-At least 40,000 Americans become newly infected with HIV each year.

-It is suspected that half of the 1 million people in the U.S. infected with HIV or AIDS have not been tested and are unaware that they are carrying the virus.

-Since the beginning of the epidemic, AIDS has killed nearly 19 million people worldwide, including 425,000 Americans.

-AIDS has replaced malaria and tuberculosis as the world’s deadliest infectious disease among adults and is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide.

-Over 13 million children have been orphaned by the epidemic.

Common Misconceptions About AIDS:

-I’m too young to be affected by AIDS, only older people get infected. This is false. In fact, nearly half of the roughly 40,000 Americans newly infected with HIV each year are under the age of 25. Approximately two young Americans become infected with HIV every hour of every day.

-This disease only affects men. Women very rarely get infected. This is also false. Women are four times more likely to contract HIV through vaginal sex with an infected partner than men are. This biological vulnerability is worsened by social and cultural factors that often undermine women’s ability to say “no” to sex or to insist on condom use.

-This is a “queer disease” and doesn’t affect straight people. Another falsehood. While the homosexual community has been ravaged by HIV/AIDS, this is no queer disease. Gay males account for 48% of the roughly 1 million infected people in the U.S., but this number certainly does not reflect the rest of the globe. Ignorant beliefs like these lead heterosexuals to believe that they are not at risk, leading them to engage in reckless sexual behavior, making them more vulnerable to infection.

-HIV/AIDS is a punishment from God. So untrue! AIDS is not a punishment from God. We live in a broken, fallen world, and sadly, sickness and death are a part of our lives. If God began handing out sickness for our sins, most of us would be dead by tomorrow.  Many people have HIV because something terrible was done to them or by them.

-HIV/AIDS is something that happens in third-world countries. AIDS is really only a problem in Africa. HIV does not discriminate. It is not who you are, but what you do that determines whether you become infected. Right here in the U.S., nearly 1 million people have HIV or AIDs. This is roughly one out of every 250 people.

So what do we do with all this information? Sometimes it is hard to wrap our brains around an issue this big. First off, we stop judging. We stop putting this issue on people halfway around the globe, people with a different lifestyle or sexual orientation, people with a lesser paycheck. AIDS kills upper-middle-class fathers, struggling single mothers, and lost young people. It kills innocent children and orphans so many more. This isn’t their problem. As believers in Christ and citizens of this world, this is our problem.

I’ve heard it said that we must stop blaming the dark for being dark. We must ask the light why it isn’t shining bright enough. We are the light.

Ask your local church what they are doing about the HIV/AIDS crisis in the world. Get involved. Another sad misconception about HIV/AIDS is that you can get it by ministering to people that have it. This is so not true! HIV is actually very difficult to catch. You can’t get it by hugging someone, touching them, or loving them.

Pray. Ask God what He wants you to do about this issue. No advice I can give will ever come close to the crystal clear guidance your Father will provide if you ask Him.

Inform yourself and others. Reach a book, check out websites, talk to people who are infected, talk about it in your small group.

Love. Satan is certainly doing a great job in causing division through this epidemic. He is telling us to hate the “whores” and the “sluts” and the “fags” and the drug addicts that infect themselves by using dirty needles. He is telling us that they are dirty, lazy, sinful, and worthless. He has shrouded the infected with shame, isolated them from community and often pushing them farther away from healing and hearing the Good News of Jesus! The only way to counteract darkness isn’t through hate, it’s through love. Show some love to that promiscuous teen or confused homosexual in your life. Pray for them. Listen to their stories. Love will win this war.

To find out more information about HIV/AIDS, please check out the following websites:

http://www.HIVandthechurch.com

http://www.orphansandthechurch.com

You can also sponsor an AIDS orphan at:

http://www.worldvision.org

God bless you!

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