Today is World AIDS Day

This is a post I originally wrote on December 1, 2011 – World AIDS Day. World AIDS Day is celebrated every year on December 1 – but more than 33 million people live with HIV or AIDS every day. I want to share the truth about HIV and AIDS everyday until the stigma is gone.

Did you know that more than 30 million people have died of AIDS over the last 30 years?

More than 33 million people around the world are living with HIV and AIDS.

Nearly 17 million children have been orphaned by AIDS. Our beautiful daughter, Ella, is one.

How will our grandchildren remember the HIV and AIDS epidemic?

Will they remember our failure to respond? Our apathy? Our greed? Our ignorance and fear?

Or will they remember our courageous action? Our generosity? Our love and sacrifice?

How should Christians around the world respond to HIV and AIDS?

I believe the global HIV and AIDS pandemic is the church’s greatest opportunity to demonstrate God’s love and compassion for the hurting to a skeptical world. I believe our response to HIV and AIDS will define the legacy of our generation. Over the last thirty years, the evangelical church has largely missed this opportunity.

But there is still hope.

Like never before, the international community is at a turning point in the fight against HIV and AIDS. But we need to open our eyes and our hearts.

Is an end to the HIV epidemic within reach?

Although there is no cure for HIV and AIDS, there can be an end to the epidemic. With access to medication, people who are HIV positive can live long, healthy lives.

Mothers who are HIV positive can give birth to healthy babies if they have access to medication and care for a safe birth. In the United States, less than 1% of babies born to HIV positive women are born with the virus.

But without treatment, between 20-45% of babies born to HIV positive women will become HIV positive. And without appropriate medical care, 50% of babies born HIV positive will die before their second birthday.

Children who are born HIV positive who have access to medication are expected to live to be grandparents. They can marry and have children without spreading the HIV virus.

Adults who are HIV positive who have access to testing and medication are significantly less likely to spread HIV.  In Africa, between 36-50% of the adults who are HIV positive have access to lifesaving ARV medication. This is not enough, but it could be the beginning of the end.

The remarkable progress towards the end of the HIV epidemic is being threatened by a decline in resources to support research and treatment.

The global economic crisis has led to significant cuts in funding for HIV/AIDS research and treatment. The United States alone has provided access to medication that has saved millions of lives. In 2013 alone, the cuts made by the United States will lead to nearly half a million people loosing access to ARVs. This will cause the death of nearly 100,000 people and create nearly 200,000 orphans.

Two hundred thousand orphans like Ella.

I want to make this really personal because it is personal to me. As much as I adore my daughter, I wish she was able to be with her biological mother. As much as I love seeing Ella in her my adoptive daddy’s arms, I wish she knew her biological father. No child should be orphaned because we do not care enough to provide their mothers and fathers with lifesaving medication.

And our incredible daughter would not be a part of our family if we had not been open to adopting a child who had been exposed to HIV.

When we adopted Ella, we knew there was a chance she was HIV positive as she had been exposed to HIV. After tests that initially looked positive, we found out these were just antibodies from the birth mom and she’s actually not HIV positive. But we would love her either way. We would be her family either way. She deserves it.

Most people, however, would not consider adopting a child who has been exposed to HIV or who is HIV positive because they are afraid.

Do you think you could catch HIV by sharing a glass with someone who is HIV positive?

One in four Americans still believe HIV can be transmitted by sharing a glass. This is a lie. HIV – the virus that causes AIDS – can not be spread by casual contact. It is not spread through hugging, kissing or snugling, sharing food or drinks, swimming or bathing.

HIV is spread through sexual contact, birth, breast milk and blood-to-blood contact.

It is not dangerous to live with someone who is HIV positive. In fact, there have been no cases of household transmission of HIV in the last 17 years. None. Zero. Not one.

So what is there to be afraid of?

Nothing.

The post was originally published on Family Hope Love on December 1, 2011.

Sara Brinton

sara@defenseofthefatherless.com

SARA BRINTON is a writer and entrepreneur with a passion for reforming international adoption and orphan care. She leads marketing for Noonday Collection, a business that uses fashion to create opportunity in developing countries. Sara and her husband, Mark, live in Austin, Texas with their four children, including daughter Gabrielle who was adopted from Uganda.

3 Comments
  • Abi

    December 2, 2011 at 2:59 am Reply

    Beautifully said.

  • carrie glanzer

    December 2, 2011 at 4:30 am Reply

    thank you miss sarah. so appreciative for your wisdom and for honestly sharing your heart. 😉

  • Lauren Stoltzfoos

    December 2, 2011 at 7:33 pm Reply

    This is beautiful. Right now, my husband and I are working at a children’s home in Jinja, Uganda for four months. Your words and life are inspiring. Thank you for loving the orphans.

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