Thoughts on World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day. I found out about it this morning through a feature in the Chicago Tribune. In all honesty, I’m troubled to admit that the AIDS epidemic isn’t an issue I think about often. I looked up a few statistics on the UNAIDS World Aids Day Report 2011 and found both encouraging and disheartening information: globally, about 34 million people are living with the HIV virus, about 2.7 million new cases were reported and 1.8 million people died of related illnesses last year. However, new therapy treatments seem to be working. People diagnosed with HIV are living longer and fewer people are dying from the disease (

When I read the headline, one of the controversies often surrounding the disease came to mind…you know what I’m talking about, right? Contraception vs. abstinence and are the use of condoms Biblical?, which is where I thought the Tribune article was going. So, I was both encouraged and refreshed when it took a different approach: people are more important than the debate. The Rev. Pat Lee is quoted saying,

I try to imitate what I see Jesus doing in the Gospels—meeting people where they are without judgment and lifting them to keep improving and move closer and work toward the ideal”

The ideal he mentions is abstinence but his point is that Jesus cares for people no matter our sin or affliction.

This is a time of year when Christians are celebrating the anticipation of Christ coming into the world. Lee describes it as “a time of watching and waiting and meditating on life and death.” Jesus came to walk along side and love all of us, which I’m constantly challenged by because I fail over and over again to care for and love others like Jesus does and as the Bible tells me to (Romans 13:7-9).

I don’t know very much about the AIDS epidemic or the ways it impacts individuals and their families. So, I’ve been thinking about a right step forward today: for me that is awareness, education and prayer.

Lord, there may be people reading this right now whose life has been touched by the HIV virus; bring them comfort, healing. I pray for a cure for sufferers and for them and their loved ones to draw near to you during this period of waiting. Guide the caregivers of those who are suffering with wisdom and strength. And if you bring someone into my life who has this painful virus, or any sick help me to know how to love them as your son does, without fear and judgment. Amen.


With a BA in Public Communication and certificate from the Denver Publishing Institute, Shannon has worked in book publishing and ministry. She currently stays home with her son and writes when she has the time. She is grateful for her small group, coffee, the Bible and living by the lake, and she enjoys laughing with her husband and son, finding good taquerias (and then eating there), reading historical fiction, and being outside. An amusing marriage tidbit: while she and her husband enjoy doing many of the same things, like watching 24, they walk at very different paces, which they find both funny and annoying. She lives on Chicago’s north side.

  • This is a good reminder for all. Jesus was not afraid to be with the people the religious people considered “sinners” and “dirty.”

    • So true. Jesus was not afraid. Thanks for your comment, Bethany 🙂

  • Joe Stewart

    Hello Shannon,after staring at the screen for a few moments,thinking of all the things I wanted to say about AIDS and how it relates to me personally,I made the decision to open up my heart and tell you what it’s like living with AIDS.I’ve been hiv positive for 16 years and I’ve seen first hand what it does to a person,their families and friends.I almost lost my life in 1995 due to pneumonia,and right before what I thought would be the (end of my life),I cried out to JESUS and HE answered my prayer! Soon after that I was rushed to the hospital,(anouther story) and spent the next 5 days in intensive care,where I soon learned that I had this disease.Three months later I got meningitus and three months later I got it again and after a 38 day stay in the hospital,I lost 60% of my hearing in my right ear and 35% in my left ear and almost went blind.After a few more problems,I was able to get some new drugs,(july,2007)and began to see some great results! Today I’m healthy,active in and out of church,(head deacon,adult bible study teacher and part of a prison ministry.But one thing I still lack to give this story a happy ending.I’ve been divorced for 23 years,and my tv is my only companion at home.I so much want to be married again,but being financially unable to support myself and a wife and having this disease makes life kinda like it was for the apostle John,shipwrecked on an island,all alone! Do you have any comments that might offer some hope to this lonely soul? I do trust in my LORD and I’m not complaining about the (extended life) He has given me! If I spend the rest of it without a wife,I know HE is always with me and cares for me so much.Just thought I’d give you a first hand look at what World Aids Day means to me! Thanks for listening and caring,Joe

  • Joe –

    Your story and hope are inspiring for me. It seems like your relationship with the Lord has grown stronger with each experience you’ve gone through. I can relate to experiencing loneliness in waiting for God’s plan to unfold, and believe those times of waiting are perhaps when we grow the most–but also experience pain.

    As many times as we are told to ‘focus on God,’ there is always new meaning to be found in that imperative. How do we love Him with our entire being–heart, soul and mind?

    A book I read last week gave me some good insight into God’s love and loving God. It is a true story called Out of a Far Country by Christopher and Angela Yuan. Oddly enough, it is the testimony of a man who is also HIV positive. Although that is only one element of his story. The book gave me a refreshing and hopeful perspective on relationships with others and with God.

    I’ve found that undiscovered hope is often uncovered by a simple change in perspective and a fresh way of thinking.

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