Today is World Aids Day.
HIV is a killer virus, which leads to a killer disease. It has taken the lives of millions of people around the globe, decimating whole communities in the Africa. Present-day medications have made being HIV positive or having AIDS a treatable condition. Rather than the sure killer that it was a generation ago, HIV has become for many people who have the virus a chronic condition.
That is not to make light of the virus or what it does to people. I have known a number of people who are HIV positive. I have also lost friends to AIDS. The virus is insidious and still quite deadly. It also leaves people who have it weakened and frail in a number of ways.
By far the best HIV treatment is to prevent becoming infected in the first place. For most people, this is simply a matter of living chaste lives and marrying people who have also led chaste lives. As simple as that sounds, today’s climate of almost universal sexual promiscuity can make it difficult. Even if you are chaste, if you marry someone who has been promiscuous, you expose yourself to whatever sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS that might infect them.
Sexual contact is not the only way to become infected with HIV. It is a disease that is carried in the blood, in semen, and other bodily fluids. Blood-to-blood transmission is by far the most sure way to contract the virus. That means that the drug culture’s propensity for sharing needles is another major disease vector for HIV.
The Church has been in the forefront of supporting and caring for people who are stricken with AIDS since the epidemic began in the 1980s. A few odd-ball preachers tried to use the virus as a means of attacking homosexuals, who were one of the groups that was hardest hit by infection. Most Christians, including me, were appalled by this. On the other hand, there are been RAIN teams and other ministries which speak the true Gospel message of love much more clearly. Every Catholic Charities affiliate in every diocese I know of has an active AIDS ministry.
Hopefully, we will find a vaccine which will prevent new infections. An actual cure may be in the future, as well. But for now, the best way to avoid becoming infected with this killer virus is to live a sane and healthy lifestyle of sexual chastity and no illicit drugs.
You can find more information about the Church’s ministries for HIV/AIDS victims here.