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I believe it’s part of who I am to address the real life issues that affect God’s people and to represent those that may not be able to publicly express how they feel. I am a Global citizen and I believe this is a global problem that I will try to talk about in a few words. I may not be directly affected but I am an intercessor so I will stand in the gap for those who are.
The best way to tackle stigma in any situation is to highlight the truth about something. When people have limited information or a gap in knowledge about something either they completely shut it out or they draw conclusions based on what they know.
As a Public Health graduate I can tell you that the most affected geographic locations in regards to HIV stigma, are those places where little effort has been made to educate the population. Imagine you hear that your uncle who was fit a few months ago has all of sudden deteriorated and you can now barely recognise him due to this phenomenon called HIV then all of a sudden he dies. This continues to happen to a few more of your neighbours and relatives. What conclusions would you draw from this thing called HIV? I know based on just that I would be concluding that it’s a killer disease that kills everyone who has ever had it.
One day I was sitting in a lecture and my lecturer was addressing HIV and she said, HIV IS NOT AIDS. I sat there and thought wow, of the three years I’ve spent doing this degree this is probably the most significant piece of information I have received. Many people have made it a topic they don’t want to address possibly because the main method of contracting the disease is regarded as immoral. To me HIV IS NOT AIDS meant there was life after an HIV diagnosis. Just like any other diagnosis of any other disease the possibility of death when you body is under attack from anything is there. However being diagnosed with HIV does not mean your life has been cut short.
Many people are scared to get tested because they feel once they know they are HIV positive that’s their death certificate signed off. I am here to tell you that there is life after HIV. With the introduction of different drugs most diagnosed people are living fulfilling lives, they are able to have families and careers. The need for you to get an early diagnosis is so important because then managing the disease becomes easy. You are more likely to die from other things than you are to die from HIV when your health is being managed by professionals.
“Even though people may talk about HIV and AIDS like they are one and the same, they are not the same thing. HIV is the virus that infects a person. AIDS is the disease that later develops in people with HIV. Today, drugs make it possible for people with HIV infection to live a very long time before ever getting AIDS.” (Women’shealth, 2015)
Now as a servant of God I would like to say this. Go and get tested, I believe in a God who can heal anything and solve any problem. However if you meet any man or woman of God who tells you to stop your treatment after they prayed for you when they are not the one who diagnosed you in the first place, please disregard it. When you get tested and you are diagnosed even after prayer the same hospital that diagnosed you should also tell you, you are healed. They have to be witnesses to your miracle because the bearer of your bad news should also be the bearer of your good news.
As Christians we are meant to spread love and to make people feel worthy no matter their circumstances. Just because your sins have no exposed consequences doesn’t make you a person who doesn’t sin. As the body of Christ we should be the ones at the forefront of confronting world tragedies such as HIV but instead we are the biggest judges and concluders. Let’s pray for the ability to love, to educate, to support and nurture all of God’s people.
HIV positive people are people who are going through a lot emotionally, physically and spiritually. As a person who can one day face a challenging situation how would you like to be treated in your time of need? Love your neighbour as you love yourself. The truth is that HIV is not a killer anymore, it can be managed AIDS is a killer but if you have an early HIV diagnosis you may never have AIDS. Most people who are HIV positive don’t have AIDS.
If you are HIV positive find someone trust worthy to talk to. Don’t allow anything to eat you up inside because as I said before you still have a lot to live for. If you got it through sinning then pray for forgiveness and God himself is always ready to forgive. You are loved dearly by me and most important by the true living God.