I must admit that it really didn’t mean too much to me at the time. It was a strange and baffling disease, but that was about it for what I knew about it. I figured a cure would be right around the corner. Or a vaccination. No problem.
Not too much later, the reality hit that this disease was killing people and no one seemed to know how it was being spread. I remember wondering how I would feel if my child (not that I had any yet!) might be forced to sit in the same classroom with an infected child. (gasp!) I sure was glad that I didn’t swim in a public pool. And I was careful to not share drinks.
Who would have ever guessed that 30 years later, I would be living in Ukraine with my pediatrician husband and my primary ministry is working with HIV+ children, some orphaned and some in families. Who would have ever guessed that these children would steal my heart, make me laugh, make me cry? And make me learn the truth about this misunderstood disease!
The world has done such a great job of scaring us about the disease that we’re back to being scared of the people who have it. I am so thankful for sites like http://www.fromhivtohome.org that helps prepare families who are adopting children who are HIV+, http://www.projecthopeful.org where they answer hard questions and advocate for children with the virus, and http://www.eliproject.org who advocates for children…many of them are MY little friends.
Who would have ever guessed that I would be actively seeking families to adopt these precious children?
Thirty years. It’s a long time. So much has improved as far as people living with HIV goes…and yet so much seems to have not advanced at all.
The stigma associated with this illness prevents some folks from ever being tested…not a good thing. The stigma prevents people from telling anyone else about their disease which means they don’t receive treatment.
I’ve had a challenging time finding folks who will volunteer to go with me to love, tickle, snuggle, and play with these children. I first have to explain the truth about this disease…if they’ll even listen.
Pray that we don’t go another 30 years and find ourselves in this same spot. Learn about the disease and tell others what you learn.
God uses everything to His glory…and will even use AIDS.