1 John 4:18
"Perfect love drives out fear."
Happy Valentines Day! On a day that is so often looked at as being for couples, I am pondering today the thought of real love. Love for our spouse, our children and others around us. I know that love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
LOVE NEVER FAILS
What does it LOOK like to love like this? I mean, is it just me or does anyone else see that especially for those of us that call ourselves Christ followers-we must love others the opposite way of how the world sees love. That means loving though misconceptions, loving through trials, loving when its not easy to love and maybe even when you don't feel like loving. THAT is true love.
Because I'm in the adoption world right now-it is where my head and heart resides, I am faced with circumstances that are so easy to overlook in America. One of them is HIV/AIDS. I am just blown away by the number of people who are misinformed about this disease, including some health care workers!!! If you've known me for a while you know that when I see injustice I have a hard time overlooking it and not standing on my soap box. Sorry, this is my blog so for just a minute I will stand on my soap box cause I can...but even MORE than that because people NEED to hear the TRUTH about HIV/AIDS.
1) What is HIV/AIDS?
It is an immune system disorder. Simply put, the immune system is weakened and cannot fight off illness the way a healthy immune system can.
2) How do I get HIV/AIDS?
Well, according to:
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- US Department of Health and Human Services (AIDS.gov)
- Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
- NYU Medical Center
- The National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Disease
- American Academy of Family Physicians
- UNAIDS – The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS
- The American Foundation for AIDS Research (AMfar)
- University of California Medical Center
(that is a LOT of reputable places!)
-birth or breastfeeding
What? Those are the only three ways?! Well, look for yourself on the CDC webisite (Center for Disease Control)
Some people fear that HIV might be transmitted in other ways; however, no scientific evidence to support any of these fears has been found. If HIV were being transmitted through other routes (such as through air, water, or insects), the pattern of reported AIDS cases would be much different from what has been observed. For example, if mosquitoes could transmit HIV infection, many more young children and preadolescence would have been diagnosed with AIDS.
All reported cases suggesting new or potentially unknown routes of transmission are thoroughly investigated by state and local health departments with the assistance, guidance, and laboratory support from CDC. No additional routes of transmission have been recorded, despite a national sentinel system designed to detect just such an occurrence.
OK, so lets know the facts here...
HIV is a fragile virus. It cannot live long outside the body. As a result, the virus is not transmitted through day-to-day activities such as shaking hands, hugging, or a casual kiss. You cannot become infected from a toilet seat, drinking fountain, doorknob, dishes, drinking glasses, food, or pets. You also cannot get HIV from mosquitoes.
The ONLY body fluids that have been shown to contain transmittable concentrations of HIV are:
- vaginal fluid
- breast milk
According to Dr. Joel Gallant, Professor of Medicine at John Hopkins School of Medicine and Infectious Disease Specialist,
"Don't spend time worrying about weird and obscure ways of transmitting the virus. The simple fact is that if no one shared needles and everyone wore condoms, the HIV epidemic would disappear."
So, now that we are clear that your child or yourself cannot get HIV/AIDS from another person unless you are doing the above with them...let the fear GO, because PERFECT LOVE DRIVES OUT FEAR. And if you know all of the above in your head, and you are still afraid do your own research (I was just trying to save you some time, you will find exactly what is listed above) and pray that God would calm your heart and remove that fear. The people that are infected with this disease need to be loved just like you do. They are not scary people, they are not laden with germs, they need to be hugged and loved and cared for just like you and I. I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings by trying to stretch your comfort zone...imagine how their feelings are hurt when they feel like outcasts.
Now, to answer some more questions...
3) What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?
I hear most people refer to HIV as AIDS...and automatically I wonder if they know what they are talking about. Of the over 1 million people living in the U.S. today with HIV, most do not have AIDS. AIDS is just a more advanced stage of HIV. And, did you know that if you have HIV you can take medicine daily that can lower your HIV levels so they become undetectable. People with HIV have to do this for the rest of their lives, but if they take their medicine they will have a normal life expectancy!
4) What about blood spills?
4) What about blood spills?
3 main methods sited by the Center for Disease Control (sex/needle sharing/birth-breast feeding) is extremely rare. Far less common, in fact, than accidental death or paralysis from swimming, horseback riding, backyard trampoline and car accidents.
To put it in perspective, in the U.S. 93 people die EVERY DAY in car accidents, 10 every day in swimming accidents, 8 people die every day in fire related accidents, 2 from choking, and even an average of 2 people die every WEEK from being struck by lightning! And yet over the past 28 YEARS that HIV/AIDS has been carefully tracked by the Centers for Disease Control, there have been only 8 reported cases of accidental household transmission. 8 in 28 YEARS.
(Among those 8 cases were hemophiliac brothers sharing razors, some elderly women, caring for their dying adult children who had full blown AIDS, not using simple universal precautions for years, and some individuals living in bizarrely unsanitary conditions (open wounds, used bandages laying all over the house, etc) further proving that under ‘normal’ household conditions, the virus is almost impossible to pass.)
Many children who are on medication today have a medically defined ‘undetectable’ amount of HIV in their blood and, thus, their odds of transmission are even many times more unlikely than these already EXTREMELY low numbers!
So, with all that said, look at today, Valentine's Day with a little different perspective. You have just had your eyes opened to a world of new people you can LOVE. My hope is that with your eyes opened you can have one less thing to fear in life.