Did you know that today, 1 December, is World Aids Day? Sadly this day often gets lost in the busy’ness of the season or, more tragically, because people don’t see the point of it.
As you know, either from our blogging or from hearing us speak in England this summer, the effects of HIV/AIDS are a crucial element of our life and ministry here in South Africa. We are seeing the virus having a devastating effect on families and individuals and quite simply, we must recognise this important day in order to stand a chance of reversing the devastation. Of course, this is only possible with God. However, God uses us as Christians to have a voice and to get our ‘hands dirty’ as we share our lives with those who are fast losing hope. This year alone 270,000 babies in South Africa have been infected with HIV, and, if nothing is done, this figure will be a staggering 1 million in 2010. It is difficult, though not impossible, for mums to help to prevent this risk of re-infection by taking a drug just prior to the birth. The positive results of doing this are staggering, but, of course, the mother must first know (and admit to) her own HIV status. We can take a lead here by having an HIV test ourselves and offering to go with people to do so. Even if you are sure you are negative, this is a remarkably scary thing to do!
Please take time out today to pray for the HOPE Home Based Care team in Chris Nissen. Much of their workload is touched by the HI virus and related illnesses and the impact of full blown AIDS. This is emotionally draining work and we want to always be there bringing the love and HOPE of God as we visit and never sitting in judgement ourselves. Many people I have spoken with say, “why can’t these people just get on to anti-retro viral drugs and get themselves better?”. If only it was this easy. ARV’s are free and largely available in South Africa but in my experience it has taken up to 5 months for a person to jump through all the hoops. By this stage the patient is very sick indeed and often it is too late. We need to pray for more testing facilities; easier availability of ARV’s and, most importantly, an end to the huge stigma that still surrounds this virus. How tragic it is that in our experience people would rather get terribly sick and then die at a very young age than face up to the fact that they have the virus, ask for family support and then go for medical help.
Let’s unite as Christians today and call on God for His grace and wisdom to find solutions to reverse the devastating impact of HIV.