I've titled this post, "What to Do, Now That You Know." You may be saying, "Sure, I read the whole series so far, but what do I know? I don't know anything." True, I haven't covered much. I hope my list of facts tomorrow will help. But here is what you do know: HIV is not what you think it is. That is enough to cause you to do your own research. Make sure your sources are current. You will be surprised. The disease we labled in the 1980's as a roaring lion has been tamed into a sleeping kitten. With medication, that is. For those who have little access to medical care, AIDS is still a horrific mass murderer.
Here is the most important thing that you know: God loves everyone who is affected by HIV, and God will lovingly empower you to help when you step out in faith. As God’s children, it is time for us to act.
Here are my ideas:
- Pray about whether you should adopt a child with HIV. For every reassurance I’ve given you about how manageable HIV is under proper medical care, I can counter it by the deaths caused by untreated AIDS. Parenting an HIV+ child means saving a life.
- Advocate against the HIV/AIDS stigma.
- Find the closest HIV clinic and ask if they need help counseling patients. When we met with the patient advocate at our local infectious disease clinic, we asked her whether she ever had patients die anymore. She said yes. But it was not for lack of medical care. It was because adults who contract HIV only know the 1980’s doom and gloom version of the "facts." Often times, patients become so depressed after diagnosis that they never rebound. They never hear the hope. And so they never take their medicines. It is like a slow suicide. Ask if you can minister to these precious souls.
- Show love to a family affected by HIV. Don't buy into the stigma. These families are safe, and worthy, and often the most incredible people you could be blessed enough to know. And remember, children with HIV are not a threat to your children. (stats to come tomorrow)
- Find an organization that fights AIDS globally, and support it. Countless groups bring HIV medications into 3rd world countries, or counsel pregnant mothers on how to avoid passing HIV to their children, or work for AIDS prevention, or encourage doubtful patients to take their medication. Join their teams. Financially support them. Volunteer with them.
- Adopt a child orphaned by AIDS, which may not necessarily mean that the child is infected with HIV.