Saturday, December 01, 2012

Infected and Affected

It's nearly twenty years since the release of the film Philadelphia, starring Tom Hanks as a man infected with HIV and Denzel Washington as the attorney hired by Hanks’ character to pursue a case of wrongful termination from the workplace. The two men shake hands when the conversation starts, but when Hanks’ character announces that he has AIDS, the character played by Washington looks first at his hand and then at the picture of his young children.

I remember watching that film when my three children were young and not long after I had been invited to sit on the board of the recently formed AIDS committee of Sudbury. Long-time readers will know that while being on the board was a challenge to some of my prejudices, visiting those with HIV and AIDS in hospital tapped into my fears. I wondered if I was jeopardizing the health of my kids by spending time with these infected people. It was ignorance and the unknown which gripped me.

It is horrendous, a crying shame, that this week our Canadian parliament voted down Bill C-398, "An Act to amend the Patent Act (drugs for international humanitarian purposes)"which would make AIDS medication availabe inexpensively to those who need it in developing countries. The drug manufacturers were in support of this legislation, and would still have profitted, so it was assumed that it would pass. Why didn't it?  Is this not evidence that prejudices still exist? When I heard the news I was disheartened.

It has been suggested that diseases don't just infect us, they affect our sense of wholeness. On World AIDS Day I hope all of us can be honest about whether our attitudes have changed over time and how we can be Christ to those who can still be treated as the lepers of our time, the outcasts.

Any thoughts about what happened in parliament? What is your experience with HIV/AIDS?


IanD said...

I'd be interested to hear the government's official defense of their position on this bill.

Nancy said...

I had not heard this but it disheartens me.

I have not had any personal experience with HIV/AIDS patients, however my mother has. When my parents were living in Tobago, my father was off teaching all day and my mother was looking for something to do. Being a former nurse and having had pastoral care training, she went to the local hospital looking to volunteer in some way. It came to her attention that there was a man dying of HIV/AIDS, and no one would visit him but for one family member. She started visiting him and spent a fair bit of time with him. After they left the island, she was notified of the man's death and was told by the family member how much they appreciated my mother's visits. Our fears are often rooted in the unknown, another reason to be educated. As Lynn said in her sermon last week, human contact and human touch is so important in healing of body, mind and spirit.

Anonymous said...

Our family lost a loved one to AIDS.