A recent article in The Advocate, which proclaims to be “the world’s leading gay news source,” offered yet another alarming, if not chilling, depiction of where we stand with regard to HIV/AIDS. The article titled Why Are HIV Rates so High Amongst Young Gay Men? which was offered on December 6, 2012, focuses upon a very important and shocking truth that we are in a second HIV epidemic among U.S. gay men “that no one is talking about.”
AIDS was first described in June of 1981 as “an unusual disease that was causing primarily young homosexual men to lose their ability to fight off otherwise common and non-harmful diseases.” GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency), as it was first called, soon took the name of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS. It was shown to affect anyone who was either sexually or through intravenous means infected by some agent which caused the immune system to be compromised over time. How well I remember this horrific tragedy unfold as some of my closest friends were the first to pass away from AIDS while living in San Francisco in 1981.
Speaking for myself, I would say this, when I meet people with HIV/AIDS, it doesn’t matter to me how they got it. All that matters is that they are human beings whom God loves so much and asks us to love too. Admittedly, some of my more theological friends may question this, I don’t mind.
HIV/AIDS clearly forces all of us to make hard choices, choices that reveal clearly what kind of people we are choosing to be. Tragically, there are those that call for callous unconcern by deserting and even persecuting the person with HIV/AIDS. However, my continued hope and prayer is that we all would resolve to follow Christ Jesus, who willingly took risks, crossed barriers, touched lepers, met freely with the despised, took the blame, even bore the stigma.
Ultimately, we must talk about HIV/AIDS. Why? Because this about people and not just an issue. In the name of decency, true compassion, humanity and the sanctity of life (all life), the truth cannot and must not be ignored or suppressed with what continues to unfold regarding HIV/AIDS. People’s lives are not made better – physically, psychologically, spiritually or socially – as a result of ignoring or unwillingness to talk about a real, true crisis of our time.
For their support throughout my own personal journey with HIV/AIDS, I thank God for my family, especially my mother and brother, my church, the many wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ, that have stood by and supported me, not always knowing what to say or do, but you were there.
HIV/AIDS is a disease that impacts real people and their loved ones who must learn to face this together, because no one can face it alone. People facing HIV/AIDS do better when they know what to expect on the journey. They do best when they don’t have to find their way alone. The journey begins with “talking about it.”