Entries tagged with “HIV”.


Why was Jonah willing to save the boat full of pagans, but not go to Ninevah?

That was a tangental question David threw out during last week’s sermon. He didn’t want to dig into it since it was really related to the overarching topic.  But was still a good point to ponder…

I e-mailed him a response over the weekend:

Something similar has been on my mind lately… especially regarding things like Darfur, Somalia, HIV/AIDS…

I think Jonah didn’t want to save those people over there, you know those foreigners.  Why would God want us to be uncomfortable to benefit someone besides ourselves?  Why should we care about Africa when we have problems here…

But once those foreigners became part of his life.  We don’t know for sure who was on the ship but I imagine that at least one of the sailors was a Nineveh-ite.  They had some shared experiences playing poker, dropping back some rum, you know hanging out.  Their relationships probably became stronger as the storm picked up.  Adversity tends to bring people together.

When Jonah and the sailors figured out what was happening he faced a few choices, do nothing and hope everyone lives, be pragmatic and realize that people are going to die, take a risk and jump overboard, get thrown overboard.  Jonah must have been a pretty decent fellow since God wanted him to prophesy on His behalf, so it seems Jonah was willing to do whatever it took to help is new buddies.  Plus if he died, he still wouldn’t preach to Nineveh!

I think once we’ve experienced Africa or know someone with HIV, it becomes real and personal.  You are more willing to act and take risks to help them.

Does that make sense? What do you think??

I would definitely, be interested in hearing your thoughts and reactions to that question in the comments.

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In the past few years I have written about HIV/AIDS quite a few times (see them here). But let’s be honest here for a few minutes. Who really cares?

AIDS is a four letter word, that like so many others shouldn’t be spoken about in polite company. Do you even remember what the four letter’s stand for? Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.  Yea, that means nothing to me. When you spell it out like that, it makes even less sense.

So what will actually make sense? We are very blessed that in the US, even though over a million people have HIV/AIDS (CDC), for many people it is managed through medication and is almost thought of as a type of cancer.  But did you know that babies die from HIV/AIDS related infections or were you to busy protesting at an abortion clinic?

You see, HIV/AIDS ravages your body so that something as simple as a winter sniffle could end up killing you.  That is the simple version, but it makes sense. Why did the baby get HIV? Her mom gave it to her, more than likely.  What kind of terrible mother would give her child HIV?  Who knows, maybe she was raped by a stranger in the middle of the night.  But does it matter how she got it? Only if you want to pass judgment. Why can’t we love someone without trying to pass judgment?

Ok, so babies and children are dying because of no fault of their own. A quick question, if the entire population of Spain had HIV/AIDS do you think someone would care? What about the entire population of Texas? Well according to World Vision, that is the current estimate of how many people are currently suffering with this ailment. 40 million.

By 2010, the number of children orphaned by the disease is expected to exceed 25 million — slightly more than the population of Texas — according to the United Nations. The impact on these children, both before and after the deaths of their parents, is catastrophic.

A few days ago was Black Friday.  Did you go waste your money on earthly materials that do nothing but provide five minutes of happiness to your child before being thrown in the bin with last year’s?  This year a Walmart employee was “trampled to death” by shoppers eager to purchase the latest craze.

Something is wrong with this picture.

This is truly a sad state of affairs.  As a culture we are willing to trample over fellow Americans to purchase a blender.  I guess it should be no surprise to me that no one cares about babies dying in a foreign land.  All of this makes me angry and sad.

But I am thankful for the organizations, churches, and individuals who are willing to stand up today and throw off the chains of injustice and care for the orphaned child and suffering widow.  These are our brothers and sisters and they deserve our love and admiration.

James 14-17 Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?

Will you sit idly by or will you act today?

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The headline may be a little misleading, but now that you are here lets look at the facts. If you pull out statistics for only Black American’s they have a AIDS prevalence rate that would rank 16th in the world. This according to the Black AIDS Institute and reported in New York Times.

That is a little scary – WE ARE THE RICHEST NATION IN THE WORLD – how can something like this still be going on in the US? We are providing all kinds of resources around the world and are seeing HIV/AIDS dropping – then why is it still so high here? This study was released at the same time that the CDC released a report that the US has been underestimating the prevalence of HIV/AIDS by about 40%. How do you underestimate by almost half? That’s a good question!

Phill Wilson, Executive Director of the Black AIDS Institute, would say that some of the problem is within the black community/culture. Summed up in one word: Stigma.

So why do I still say, “AIDS in America today is a Black disease?” The truth is, while awareness – and lip service – about this disease may be rising, too many of us still don’t know our HIV status, aren’t in appropriate care and treatment, and aren’t taking concrete steps to protect ourselves and our loved ones from becoming infected. When it comes to this disease, we’ve got to walk the talk.

The facts remain startling. Over 50% of HIV-positive African Americans do not know they are HIV positive. For those who do get tested, it is often too late: Too late for treatment to be fully effective, too late to stop the progression from HIV to AIDS and too late to prevent significantly more AIDS-related deaths in our communities.

And there is a cruel irony here: Many of our people are dying just as HIV treatment reaches new heights. Today’s medications mean HIV can be successfully treated over the long term with just 1 or 2 pills a day. This is amazing progress compared to just a decade ago, when treatment was difficult to take and involved lots of pills. But because we’re not getting tested for HIV early and often, many of our brothers and sisters are missing out on these advances.

Behind all of this is the ongoing challenge of HIV stigma. Too many people are still too scared to take the test for fear of how others may react to a positive diagnosis. And too many people are discouraged by damaging misinformation and myths in our community about HIV. But times have changed. Today, the stigma Black America really needs to be concerned about is the shame of not getting tested, and thereby not doing what it takes to end the AIDS epidemic in our communities. It is time for each one of us to take responsibility for the health – and the future – of our community.

The Institute is taking action in a campaign called “Test One Million” which hopes to:

  • Reduce HIV rates in Black America,
  • Dramatically increase the number of Black people who know their HIV status,
  • Build an army of Black testing and treatment advocates,
  • Increase the number of Black people seeking early treatment and care, and
  • Decrease HIV stigma in Black communities.

The problem is multi-faceted and so will the ability to fix it. The Institute rails against the Bush Administration for providing development aid targeting HIV/AIDS to countries that have a lower prevelance rate than the black community. I think part of this stems from the fact that money has been invested in those countries for awhile now and have done marvelous good. In the same NY Times article a UN report is quoted as saying that the overall mortality rates from HIV/AIDS has decreased since its peak in the early 1980’s.

I think the black community has the right to be upset about this issue. In my opinion it is more of a systematic racism but it is also a big cultural issue. I don’t believe they should rely solely on government aid – this is America – we need to do some work too. But as the culture is being transformed through superstars like Oprah and even Obama (both were tested for HIV publicly) we as a citizenry and government need to make sure the resources are there to support the change. One of the main reasons anti-retrovirals, the drugs that can slow HIV/AIDS down, are available internationally at an affordable rate is because many are subsidized. Actually there are some of the drugs that are being sold internationally on the market as generics due to emergency clauses in patent laws – which will never be seen in the US.

Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation have been very active in the process of helping combat the issue of HIV/AIDS around the world and was actually a big reason for subsidies and getting the drugs sent at discount prices. On August 5, he announced that his foundation will now include doing work in the United States around this issue. He didn’t provide many specifics to his plan but simply said:

“For Americans, this should be a wake-up call,” Clinton said, addressing the International AIDS Conference here. “Even as we fight the epidemic globally, we must focus at home. And I intend to do so with my foundation.”

If you are still reading and not completely overwhelmed you can tell this is a very complex issue and one that you and I probably can’t do much about. We can continue to be aware of the problem and the issue. At some point we will need to step up and say we want the government to take action and help rid the country of this virus.

What do you think? Do you see a better/easier solution?

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