December 1 means something to me now. It’s not just the first day of the last month of the year. It’s not just a random day between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s a day that is set aside to remind people like me that there is a disease that has not been beaten yet.AIDS may no longer be the sexy disease that it once was, and I do say this tongue-in-cheek. It may not be the It cause of the moment, but it hasn’t gone away and it’s not going away anytime soon.
Internationally, the statistics are staggering (Avert.org):
More than 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981.(That’s about how many people live in Texas…imagine everyone in Texas dying since 1981.)
Africa alone has 11.6 million AIDS orphans.(That means 11.6 million children who are without their parents…can you imagine? One orphan should break our hearts…11.6 million should send us to our knees.)
Young people (under 25 years old) account for half of all new HIV infections worldwide.
How does this affect you and me in any way? We can’t see it from our house.
Well, HIV is still a threat across the United States too. And even though there are treatments to help people with HIV live longer than ever before, AIDS is still a significant health issue. Just take a look at some of these sobering statistics (US AID):
§Every 9½ minutes, someone in the U.S. is infected with HIV.(So, read this post five times and one more person just contracted HIV.)
§More than one million people in the United States are living with HIV.(Think the entire state of Rhode Island when you think of one million people.)Of those one million people living with HIV, one out of five do not know they are infected.
§More than 14,000 people with AIDS still die each year in the United States.
I am grateful that I began to care about this issue before I met someone with AIDS…that was a gift. But I care even more now that I have. I have held hands with someone who has AIDS, a woman younger than me, a mother just like me…for all I know, she has died already, leaving her children behind.
The fight is not over. And the fight needs you. Do something about AIDS today.
You can start by watching this video of the Liberia trip I led a few summers ago with Samaritan’s Purse (http://www.vimeo.com/7919582).
Then choose just one thing on the following list and make a difference today:
§Use the Samaritan’s Purse gift catalog during this holiday season to do some good while doing your shopping at https://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/Giving/gift_catalog/.
§Go to Samaritan’s Purse’s website and watch this video: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/bethevirus/.
§Pray for your role as an individual and family, and your church’s role in fighting this pandemic.
§ Read The AIDS Crisis: What We Can Do by Deborah Dortzbach.
§Get tested, even if you’re pretty sure you don’t have HIV:go here to find out where you can get tested locally: http://www.hivtest.org/.
Every bit of light breaks through the darkness and creates more light. Pretend you’re a candle being lit in a dark room…light wins out every time.