World AIDS Day 2015
When AIDS and HIV come to mind, we cannot help but think about why God permitted this disease to affect humanity. We are forced to think about weather God intends to eradicate the disease, and if so when, considering many people have died because of suffering the condition. We are forced to think about the nature of God and to weigh out and analyse what the power of God, and the love of God means; especially in today’s climate, where we have mega churches that could be the vessel of change for people affected and infected by the disease yet choose to turn their backs, and to some great extent manipulate the ill and those affected. Unfortunately, The Church and so many people have been callous and believe that the HIV and AIDS crisis has nothing to with them, with this sort of attitude no wonder some family, friends, co-workers and wider society take issue with supporting people living with this condition, or those affected by it, thus stigma arises.
As promiscuous sex, homosexuality and having multiple sexual partners within marriage (polygamy) may be the lead cause of this disease in Africa, what are we doing about this? Furthermore, Africa is blighted with severe economic and social problems such as poverty, ruthless dictatorships and civil wars which affect the health and economic wellbeing of populations. For example, if people are poor and malnourished, live in unhygienic environments and are ill from other diseases such as malaria, cholera or tuberculosis; chances are that they will have less resistance to the HIV if they have contracted it under such living conditions, hence the lower life expectancy.
Why do we think that other humans suffering; be it by sickness or catastrophe, is not our problem or concern? What does the church do? Why is it our place or the church’s place to judge and be prejudiced against those infected and affected by the virus? We should ask ourselves where our humanity has gone. As HIV and AIDS have spread widely all over the world, what do we do about resources such as inadequate healthcare in poor countries, or even in our very own communities. What do we do about educating everybody about the condition and prevention measures? What do we do for those infected? What measures can we implement on how best to live with the condition, not just physically but socially too? What can we do to decrease the scale of damage that the virus has caused physically and socially? instead of just turning our backs and not bothering about it, because we think that this disease does not directly affect us and our immediate circle. We need to educate each other about selflessness and our responsibility for the welfare of humanity.
Theologically, we have been taught that God is on the side of the poor, the marginalised, the down trodden, the ill etc. However, HIV and AIDS makes it clearer than ever, that God will not intervene to assist anyone infected or affected by this condition. As we think about children orphaned by the HIV and AIDS crisis, as we think of our relatives and friends taken by this condition and the families and spouses that get left behind to bare the pain and hardship of loss and suffering, there is a definite need to honestly reflect upon our understanding of God as healer, and weather this understanding of God has changed and/or affected our situations.
Whilst it may be argued that nowadays HIV is not a death sentence and people infected by the virus live longer and healthier lives, let us put into perspective those people that have no access to lifesaving drugs, because once the HIV deteriorates to AIDS, (as is the case with most people living with this condition from Third World countries) they have even less likelihood of their situation changing for the better. This may make it complicated for those people and their carers to believe in God as Healer. All that is left in such a scenario for these people, is clinging onto to hope, a hope in whatever puts them at ease, whilst facing the reality of inevitable death.
Let us be the change that we keep talking about…..