Monday, December 03, 2007

the faces of aids

December 1 is World AIDS Day. I didn't know that until yesterday morning. Somehow the announcement got lost in all the Christmas commercials.

Back in the summer I started reading Stephanie Nolan's incredible book, 28: Stories of AIDS in Africa. I'm not quite all the way to end yet so I can't add it to the "books read" list but I'd recommend adding it to your reading list if you keep one. Prior to starting this book I thought I had a decent handle on what the faces of AIDS look like. And sadly, I've learned that my view of this far-away-feeling pandemic was tragically small.

It's easy to think of AIDS as an African problem, but it's so much more than that. AIDS is a family where the 11 year old is running the household because there are no relatives left to take care of them. Everyone is dead. AIDS is the doctor no one believed could have 'a disease of the poor'. AIDS is a revolutionary who refused the medications that his compatriots were being denied. AIDS is entire villages of grandmothers who find themselves parenting again and worrying about what will happen when they are gone. The face of AIDS is a woman who contracted the disease from her own husband and was then kicked out for bringing disgrace to his house. AIDS, I'm learning, is unfathomably unfair.

There are some who say that AIDS is a curse, God's vengeance for sin and I for one, am not brave enough to hold to a view like that. If God could punish one sin so violently, how much more could I expect to receive for my sins, which number far more than just one? God doesn't grade on a curve, we know that, and thank Heaven He doesn't. I wrote an article about that a few months back for work, and while it doesn't specifically mention the AIDS pandemic, maybe it's good reading for World AIDS Day, or thereabouts. I know it's a reminder than I need more often than I care to admit.

No comments: