Monday, December 1, 2008
World AIDS Day
Well, today is World AIDS Day. All most every nation is acknowledging the day. It is a time to re-commit to more research, more prevention and more compassion. There seems to be a sense that since the medications are so effective the problem is manageable. This is not the case. People still die, people are still infected. Lives and families are shattered.
UNAIDS estimates that there are now 33.2 million people in the world living with HIV. 2.5 million of those people are children. This is hardly a problem that is going away. In 2007 there were 2.5 million people became newly infected with the virus.
This is an issue that touches me. I regularly have guest speakers in my classes from the AIDS Task Force of Fort Wayne. I have worked with HIV+ folks for a number of years. They have contracted the virus in a variety of ways. The stigma is still great. It does not matter how they contracted the virus, there is still a sense that somehow a judgmental God was giving them what they deserved. Shame only complicated an already difficult challenge.
I am currently a Behavioral and Social Science Volunteer with APA. This is a joint program with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The emphasis is on promoting interventions that are empirically based and tested, interventions that have been shown to be effective. I am proud of this program.
There are ambivalent feelings toward Catholics in the HIV Prevention community. This is because the ban on condoms is viewed as a death sentence. However, the problem is so big, and the Churches contributions so significant that this problem can be overcome. What is required is medical care, education, caring and in this the church is a recognized leader.
Today is World AIDS Day. Please take a moment to remember all those who have died from this virus. Think of all those who need your help now, today. Pray and then think about what you can do that is helpful, caring and not judgmental. These are the lepers of our lifetime and it is clear how Jesus and Francis would want us to treat lepers.
AIDS in Nigeria – Trailer