How does HIV touch me daily? I hope to write every few weeks about how this disease affects us on a daily basis.
Besides living in my body, this virus affects me more often than I’d like. Some positive ways are when I can share with others how to prevent the spread of the virus.
This last weekend, I got to address a group of twenty- one “missionaries –to- be” going to South Africa through Rock Harbor Church. ( located in Costa Mesa California, a church plant of our big Mariners Church that appeals to the 20 and 30 year olds – very youth oriented church). Now, because I know how it “feels” to confront stigma and rejection, I wanted them to be prepared to show love in meeting someone with HIV. . While they are Christians, they still had preconceived ideas of how they’d react once they get to South Africa. As humans they admitted some trepidation, and fear. So we talked about how this disease is spread and how it isn’t spread. This omits fear of contact, we hope. And they had uncertainly on how to address the person- many won’t want to talk about it, they thought. However I answered, if we offer prayer for whatever they need, often this will come out, and believe me, people living with HIV, particularly in Africa need and welcome prayer. It was an enriching experience for me to be there to talk about the Uganda I love, and about how HIV and AIDS are two different things- even thought we lump them as one in the medical field i.e. you’ve heard them say HIV/AIDS as if it’s all one. Well it’s true I told them- HIV can lead to AIDS if untreated. However knowing there is a difference is important- why? Because if we know we have it, #1 we can get treatment early like I did- within 4 weeks of infection I was at the Dr.’s office, 2. We can NOT spread it, and #3. We can count our blessings every day.
There is power in knowledge and if the stigma would cease and our African brothers and sisters would be more open about the need for HIV testing, this disease would be reduced. That’s why it’s important to know there is a difference – it brings hope – it even can help us to better use the time God has given us on this earth for completion, to help others and most of, to spread the gospel.
The one thing we all agreed upon in this meeting… people who know they are sick are more open to the gospel. They know they need Jesus to get through it, and to heal or to go to heaven. Being sure someone is saved is the most important thing one can do to one with HIV- in addition to giving them a hug. Thanks for letting me share this.