Faithlink Discussion: AIDS
Globally, there are an estimated 33 million people living with AIDS, about two thirds of them living in Sub-Saharan Africa. Women account for half of all HIV infections. There are 2.7 million new HIV infections each year. In North America, 1.2 million people are living with HIV.
The figures are startling…
from Faithlink: Connecting Life and Faith, vol. 16, no. 32 (Nashville: Cokesbury, 2010), December 5, 2010
In the United Methodist Book of Discipline, the most “current statement of how United Methodists agree to live their lives together, we hear a little about how we, as United Methodists, are called to support those with HIV/AIDS. It states:
We affirm all persons as equally valuable in the sight of God. We therefore work toward societies in which each person’s value is recognized, maintained, and strengthened. We support the basic rights of all persons to equal access to housing, education, communication, employment, medical care, legal redress for grievances, and physical protection…
Persons diagnosed as positive for Human Immune Virus (HIV) and with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) often face rejection from their families and friends and various communities in which they work and interact. In addition, they are often faced with a lack of adequate health care, especially toward the end of life.
All individuals living with HIV and AIDS should be treated with dignity and respect…
Countries facing a public health crisis such as HIV/AIDS must have access to generic medicines and to patented medicines. We affirm the right of men and women to have access to comprehensive reproductive health/family planning information and services that will serve as a means to prevent unplanned pregnancies, reduce abortions, and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS… It is unjust to construct or perpetuate barriers to physical or mental wholeness or full participation in community.
We believe it is a governmental responsibility to provide all citizens with health care.
from The United Methodist Book of Discipline—2008 (Nashville: UM Publishing House, 2008), ¶162.U-162.V (p117-118). Emphasis added.
In John 10:10, Jesus states that he came “that they might have life, and have it abundantly.” All of us are called to carry on this mission: to promote the abundant life Christ came to give. We mustn’t construct barriers around ourselves or our communities which keep people from accessing the resources they need to survive. Note: this is a political statement though it knows no party line. The entire Christian message is inherently political. We are, first and foremost, citizens of a heavenly kingdom and we are called to live first by its laws: by law of Christ. We are called to love, with our whole being, both God and neighbor (and this just might make some people “on both sides of the aisle” a little upset).
As we remember World AIDS Day this week, I pray that you will seek to be harbingers of peace and understanding and be promoters/enablers of the abundant life Christ calls all persons to. In particular, show love, dignity, and respect to those afflicted with HIV/AIDS. Show them the love of Christ that they too might have an abundant life.
Most merciful God, you hold each of us dear to your heart. Hold all those who are ill in your loving arms and tenderly draw them into your love, together with all who are living with AIDS and HIV infection. Assure them that they are not alone, and give them the courage and faith for all that is to come. Strengthen those who care for them and treat them, and guide those who do research.
Forgive those who have judged harshly, and enlighten those who live in prejudice or fear. Nourish those who have lost sight of you, and heal the spirits of those who are broken. We pray this in the name of Jesus, who suffered and died, and then rose from the dead to lead us into new and abundant life, now and for ever. Amen.
from “Ministry with Persons with AIDS” in The United Methodist Book of Worship (Nashville: UM Publishing House, 1992), p627.
Official Statements of The United Methodist Church:
“A Covenant to Care: Recognizing and Responding to the Many Faces of AIDS IN THE USA”, #3241 (The United Methodist Book of Resolutions—2008)
“Pastoral Care and the AIDS Epidemic in Native American Communities”, #3338 (The United Methodist Book of Resolutions—2008)
“The Church and the Global HIV/AIDS Pandemic”, #3243 (The United Methodist Book of Resolutions—2008)
“United Methodist Global AIDS fund Distribution”, #3244 (The United Methodist Book of Resolutions—2008)
“World AIDS Day Observance”, #3242 (The United Methodist Book of Resolutions—2008)
General Board of Church and Society: World AIDS Day resources, www.umc-gbcs.org/aids
The United Methodist Global AIDS Fund, www.umglobalaidsfund.org
National Association of People Living with AIDS, www.napwa.org