I’ve been reading through a book given to me by our Social Justice staff in the Burlington office. 

The Skeptic’s Guide to the Global AIDS Crisis

This is sort of a quick reference and full of great stuff.  I would like to share a few quotes I’ve read today and comment on them.  As I wrestle through what I’m learning, my prayer is that you are learning, too, or can add to my learning with your knowledge and heart.

“Religious leaders are zealous to know more about HIV/AIDS, and with more information, we’ll be able to fight the epidemic more effectively.”   Sheikh Ali Banda, Kuomboka Islamic Center, Lusaka, Zambia (p34)

This is great!  A coworker just this morning was telling me of a clergy that she met who is HIV+.  She spoke of the influence he has when speaking to other clergy, of how other clergy are opening their eyes, ears, and hearts to what he has to say because he is one of them.  I wonder how far this zealousness reaches.  I pray that I’m wrong, but it seems that there are a lot of pastors in the US that are not very zealous about learning more about HIV/AIDS and fight the epidemic at all, let alone more effectively.

Now I realize that “Sub-Saharan Africa is home to just over 10 percent of the world’s population and more than two-thirds of all people living with HIV.” (p43)  Due to this the religious leaders in Zambia are facing HIV/AIDS in a much more vivid way perhaps, than my communities in the US.  However, “Of the 950,000 people living with HIV inthe US, as many as a quarter do not know they are infected.” (p49, emphasis added)  Shouldn’t that make it more real for our communities at home?  Who knows if they have it?  Do you know your status?  Last fall on the HIV/AIDS tour we asked a women who gives the HIV test throughout the community that we were visiting, what is the one thing we should take back and tell the churches in North America.  Her response was quick and simple, “Know your status.”  Knowledge is power.  Have you been tested?  I have not, and am not in a high-risk category, but I think it’s good to know your status and hope to be tested soon.

The Embrace AIDS campaign of CRWRC is trying to ignite interest, understanding, learning and compassion for people living with HIV/AIDS around the world.  This is an incredibly horrible disease that pervades many countries and cultures in a different way than it appears to do at home in the US.

“A whole generation of young people today has never known a world free of HIV/AIDS.” Ann Veneman, Executive Director UNICEF (p48)