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HIV/AIDS – Why Should We Care?

Friday, December 1, is World’s AIDS Day. It’s a day that is set aside to raise awareness about this deadly epidemic. But the question is, why should we care, even as Christians, or as Americans?

To begin with, there is a slight difference between HIV and AIDS, from a technical point of view at least. Yes, from a practical, public standpoint, there may not be a difference. HIV, you already know, stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This is a virus that could be passed on from one person to another through sexual contact or through blood contact with an infected individual. So, the first thing to notice is that while sexual contact is the main way HIV is transmitted, it is not the only way. What this virus does is to attack T cells of the human immune system, thereby weakening the ability of the body to defend itself against diseases and infections. This is why it is often called a retrovirus.

So, what is AIDS? AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. This is the terrible result of becoming infected with HIV. AIDS is the medical condition in which the body, not being able to defend itself from germs, diseases and infections, is susceptible to all kinds of infections and diseases. God made our human body to fight a majority of diseases and infections on its own! Most drugs, if not all drugs, are usually administered to help the body regenerate itself or induce the production of specific anti-bodies which will fight specific diseases. But, in AIDS patients, the ‘defense army’ of the body has been routed up by the wicked HIV, and so, sadly, they fall victim to almost every germ, infection or disease out there.

It is possible then for someone to be infected with the HIV, but not yet a full blown AIDS patient. You see, if an individual gets to know on time that he or she is HIV positive, and has access to the some of the costly drugs available, they could actually live a longer ‘healthier’ life than would have been possible if they did not know on time or if they could not afford the drugs to help extend their lives.

There is a surprising degree of apathy about HIV/AIDS among those of us living in Western world. There is this feeling that, ‘AIDS is more of a problem for the developing countries…for those in dark and poor Africa.’ But did you know that…
There are two types of HIV; HIV -1 is distributed worldwide, and HIV-2 is primarily confined to West African countries
Two young people become infected with HIV every hour in US alone. Think about that.

No country is shielded. It may be more prevalent in a particular part of the world today, but in a global community in which we live, it is becoming increasingly dangerous to ignore the threat that HIV posses to all of us.

You may wonder, 'But what can I do?' Here is what I think you could do.
Heart-felt compassion, not condescending pity, is key. We must become empathic with those who suffer with AIDS. Yes, it is true that many people contact the ‘disease’ by some sort of sexual perversion or the other. That’s sad enough. But what would Jesus do even in that case? I think he would be kind, patient and compassionate. I think he would judge the sin and not the people. ‘ But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd’ Matthew 9: 35.

Next thing we can do is pray, that is, for those of us who believe in prayer. That's what Jesus requested we do in Matthew 9: 36-37. We should pray for breakthrough results in research into cure for AIDS, cancer etc. We should pray for the victims of AIDS and their families. We could pray for healing for those we know around us...yes, I do believe God can heal even AIDS victims. God is not limited by our limited medical abilities.

If you happen to be in a position to do so, I think it is a good idea to communicate the need to our politicians and pharmaceutical companies; so that they stop playing political or money game with this 'disease'. Two years ago, I signed a letter which World Vision sent to the President of US and the Congress, to increase funding for HIV/AIDS research and cure. A few weeks later, I got a mail from one of the President's aids thanking me for my letter and assuring me that government is doing its best on the matter. That suggests to me that, although the President may not have read my mail ( I did not expect he would anyway; he is a busy man), but his assistant did. That is important.

Finally, if you ever have any doubts, please go for an HIV screen/test. Discovering this virus on time could help extend one’s life and also avoid transmitting it to loved ones. But even as you visit the hospital, be cautious. I read the other that over 90,000 new infections or diseases (not necessarily HIV/AIDS) are contracted in US alone by visits to hospitals.

Ultimately, we should place our faith in God for protection and deliverance. If you are a Christian who does not believe that God can shield his beloved children from some of these deadly diseases, then, too bad. I believe that God loves us and cares affectionately about us. We must live worthy and accurate lives, but we must never forget that ‘it is not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy’. We are not holier than those who have contracted this deadly infection, but we could consciously and deliberately put our hope in God to protect us and our loved ones from this deadly ‘pestilence’. I like this promise that God made to us in Psalm 91: 7-14 is relevant and encouraging:

A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.

Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name".