Sunday, July 10, 2016

AIDS/HIV in the 21st Century

In the past thirty years huge strides have been made in addressing AIDS/HIV. What was initially a death sentence has become a manageable if not yet curable disease. Much of the fear and stigma has been overcome as well. When I first worked with those living with AIDS/HIV in the late 80s many were unwilling to let others know of their specific illness, even in death. Now we are aware of prominent figures such as Magic Johnson, former basketball great, who has lived for 25 years with HIV. Of course Johnson is wealthy and lives in North America. Those who live in developed countries have access to drugs which allow for reasonable health. This is not the case in developing nations.

Image result for magic johnson hiv status

The World Council of Churches made a statement recently calling for a renewed effort to combat AIDS/HIV.

Despite huge progress since AIDS was first identified 35 years ago, the threat of AIDS still haunts much of the world. 21 million people currently have no access to treatment of HIV, and AIDS-related illnesses are now the leading cause of death for adolescents in Africa. More than 2 million people are newly infected annually. The world is facing the catastrophe of 6 million AIDS-related orphans, and this figure is growing.
These shocking statistics are part of the reason why, at its Central Committee meeting in Trondheim, Norway at the end of June, the World Council of Churches (WCC) reaffirmed its commitment to eliminating AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

We can be grateful that this organization of Christian denominations has moved beyond the harsh moral judgement of the first days of AIDS to act as a conscience for a world which in some respects has moved on from the intense awareness of the impact of this disease.

Today the gospel lesson is the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke. We are called to bind up these wounds of affliction as people suffer globally.


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