Most of the time we aren’t naïve enough to say the five words, “It won’t happen to me…”, but more often than not we live like we believe the phrase is true. Last year nearly a million people ages 15-24 believed that they would not become HIV positive; yet they were wrong.*
Although HIV & AIDS have been around for 30 years, many people still do not know the basic facts about how HIV is transmitted and how it can be prevented. HIV is transmitted through sexual contact, needle sharing, childbirth, breastfeeding, and blood transfusions.
Generally sex, drug use and disease are not topics that are talked about in church; but this must change. Millions of people are becoming positive with a preventable disease that will take their lives if they do not have access to live saving medications (ARV’s). Even when people do receive the costly medications, the side effects are brutal and often leave people feeling very weak.
Churches are in the best position to come alongside and care for people who are sick. Jesus spent much of His ministry showing us how to be with people who are hurting and sick. He didn’t only talk about caring for the sick– he went into their home and healed people, he stopped and cared for them on the road, and he paused while he was teaching and met the real physical needs of people. Jesus did this to show us how he wants us to interact with people who are sick and hurting as well.
In addition to caring for people who are sick, churches have the ideal role to talk with people about saving sex for marriage, teach men and boys to respect women and children, offer drug and recovery support, and talk about partnering with one person for life through marriage. While each one of these areas is difficult, it becomes easier when there is the loving support of others who are also committed to ending AIDS.
While it is true that, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” (Lao-tzu) it can often be hard to know what first step to take. One really practical first step churches can take in helping end AIDS is to encourage people to get tested for HIV. The only way for people to know their HIV status is to be tested. Church members can become certified HIV testers, or churches can partner with local HIV testing sites, and can hold testing events at their local church. Churches can also encourage people to go together to a local testing site and get tested together. (To find a local HIV testing site go to www.hivtest.org and enter your zip code.)
We really can live in a world that is free of AIDS where people will no longer need to naively believe HIV & AIDS won’t happen to them; it won’t happen to them because, if we all work together, HIV & AIDS will become a disease that has been eradicated!
Watch this video about two college guys who went to get tested for HIV.
Click Here to Watch Video
*Sources: Kaiser Family Foundation – Report on Global AIDS Epidemic, November 2011