Tuesday, October 14, 2014

You Can Make a Difference: Called to Love even Those Living with HIV/AIDS

Myth #1: “I can get HIV by being around people who are HIV-positive”. No! The evidence shows that HIV is not spread through touch, tears, sweat, or saliva. You cannot catch HIV by breathing the same air as someone who is HIV-positive or thru hugging, kissing and shaking hands with someone who is HIV-positive or sharing eating utensils or using exercise equipment at a gym with an HIV-positive person. But you can get it from infected blood, semen, vaginal fluid, or mother's milk.

Myth #2: “I don't need to worry about becoming HIV positive – new drugs will keep me well”. There are drugs that can improve and extend the lives of many people who are HIV-positive but are expensive and have many serious side effects. None yet provides a cure. Also, drug-resistant strains of HIV make treatment an increasing challenge.

Myth #3: “I can get HIV from mosquitoes”. Yes, HIV is spread through blood but insects don’t inject the blood of animal they have last bitten when they bite us. Also, HIV lives for only a short time inside an insect. So, this myth is nonsense!

These are only top 3 myths and misconceptions people think about AIDS and HIV. There are many more, of course. But these three is enough I guess to make us aware that we are actually ignorance of the truths about HIV. Our misconceptions proof that we don’t care enough. When I told my friends about my experiences with the Crisis Home’s residents, (a non-profit ministry caring for people living with HIV/AIDS), they asked me many questions, “Did you hug them?” “Can you eat with them?” “What are they look like?” “Can we shake their hands?” “Are you using mask when you talk to them?” and many more questions that are too shameful for me to write here. Mr. Isaac Tan, who is working full-time at Crisis Home shared a story about how a man didn't even touch a cup of tea when he came to the Home. That is how deep our misconceptions and stigma against people who is living with HIV/AIDS. There is only one way to breakdown this wall of prejudices – love.

Jesus told us that love for friends is not enough. Love for our own family members is not enough. Love for our neighbour is not enough. Love for those who are different from us in culture or belief is not enough. Love for those who are disagree with us is not enough. Even love for our enemies is not enough. Jesus told us to show love for “the least of these” (as in Matthew 25:31-46). The “least of these” refers to those in a variety of needy situations. They include the hungry, thirsty, impoverished, sick, imprisoned, anyone! – even those who is living with HIV/AIDS. Those are the people we are called to love also. To love is to know; to know is to care. That kind of loving-caring is the sign of God’s spirit at work in us.

How can we show love to people who is living with HIV/AIDS? May I suggests? Firstly, repent from our sin. To repent of our lack of care and rejection towards them. To repent of the way in which we as Christians have often stigmatized those with HIV. Secondly, create personal awareness. Do some research, get some reading, find articles, allocate HIV/AIDS homes nearby you (or in Malaysia) and if possible get to know those whom closed to you who might have HIV-positive. Thirdly, invest your time. Try spend time with the person living with HIV/AIDS. Eat, play, talk, walk or do activities with them. Most of them whom I know personally are rejected by the family members and friends and society. They are longing for companions and friends. Fourthly, invest your money. Support them financially (One way is to give to Crisis Home ministry. Click HERE). And finally, support them in prayer. Indeed we are not just to show deep, compassionate, caring love, but also to pray to God for His grace, mercy and blessing on such people. You can make a different!

If you judge people, you have no time to love them” (Mother Teresa)

Below are some pictures of Crisis Home’s residents. Share with permission:

Picture with leaders in the church

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