Today is World AIDS Day around the world. It was established several years ago by the World Health Organization, and gives an opportunity for communities everywhere to remember those who have been lost to HIV, those infected and affected, and to look toward and work for a brighter future relative to this disease. I don't think that there is much new that can be written; there are facts and there are fallacies; it's not a "gay" disease or God's judgement; it is simply a blood borne disease that is acquired. There are risk groups but the reality is that no one is immune. People have been infected through sex, through infected needles, through blood transfusions of infected blood, and so on. Over the years I have lost many a friend to this illness, and my very best friend is a 20+ year HIV survivor. Take time today to remember all those we've lost and all those who lost spouses, children, parent, or siblings. Remember all those who are currently and literally fighting for their lives. Take time today to think about contacting your government officials to discuss funding for care and research and to talk about the horribly unfair US immigration policy. Above all, if you are a praying person, remember the whole HIV issue in your prayers today. One day a year for all of this is not enough, but it's a start. If there are activities planned in your community, take part it them. If there are no activities, contact your local health department and see why not. Perhaps you, your church or school, or some other group can band together and plan something for World AIDS Day 2007.
Today I remember friends varying in age from the eighteen year old who had sex once in his life and one of his parting questions was, "What is safe sex?'" to senior citizens who were infected late in life. I especially today ask you to keep Tim in your prayers -- he is the long term survivor I mentioned earlier. Over the years, he has had various HIV related illnesses, and he currently is in some degree of pain. Yet he keeps on going -- he is my Energizer Bunny -- he keeps on going and going and going. He lives in a small town in the midwest where there is no real support or good care, he doesn't have much family support, and often he feels very isolated and alone even though he has a partner. I am calling today, TIM DAY, and offering a specail prayer as well as giving him a call just to say hi and to tell him that I love him.
HIV isn't front page news much these days nor is it a top priority for a government so focused on terrorism, war, bad economy and so on. However, it is still very real and even though there are many new treatments and even though people are living much longer and with fewer outbreaks of "the illnesses", people are still dying and people are still beocming infected at alarming rates. Do your part today to bring HIV into your community's range of vision today - let us always remember and never forget!
And Tim, if you read this, know that you are special and that I love you and respect you. You are one of my real heroes -- you have been a front line soldier in the battle for health and for life for longer than most career military folks. And yet you are always there for me! Today is about you and I believe that in many ways you embody World AIDS Day -- you are dealing with the same cumulative grief, the same frustration with a government and a society who seem to not care much, and at the same time, you suffer the real presence of HIV in your life, your body, and your home. You, however, refuse to let it control you. God bless you and the millions of others like you in the world.
The good news is this: God is greater than AIDS! This post isn't really well focused and structured and that is because the subject is so huge and because while it affects individual lives, it's effect on society and whole communities is staggering. Today is a day in which YOU and I can make a difference!