I’ve read a lot of inspiring stories lately of how the American church has stepped up to the plate to show love, mercy and charity to the people of Africa, particulary with respect to the absence of safe drinking water, and with respect to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Christ-followers are on the forefront in challenging those evils, and that is how it should be. I have a lot to say about the African water situation, and what we can do about it, but I’ll save that for another day. I also have a lot of things I’d like to say about particular actions and missions to address the AIDS crisis, but I’ll save that topic too. What I’m going to do today is just share some shocking facts I recently read.
–Approximately 7,000-8,000 people die every single day from AIDS-related illnesses. That is equivalent to twenty 747s crashing and killing every passenger on board. Every single day.
–Over 70% of all AIDS cases, deaths and new infections, are in sub-Saharan Africa.
–“Whereas past great pandemics in human history, such as outbreaks of plague and Black Death in Europe tended to carry off mainly the weakest in society, the very young and the very old, HIV/AIDS by contrast is most devastating among the young adult population (so that the surviving young and old suffer even more). It carries off the working, childbearing generation, leaving behind precisely the very young and the very old to cope without those who would normally care for them both. HIV/AIDS is hollowing out whole communities in Africa, throwing grandparents and very young children together in a struggle for survival, and creating vast numbers of the most vulnerable of all people, widows and orphans. A new AIDS orphan is created every fourteen seconds. Perhaps three more since you began reading this paragraph.” (From The Mission of God, by Christopher Wright).
–It has been estimated that male sexual behavior underlies 80% of the AIDS epidemic.
–Yet in Africa, women and teenage girls are five to six times more likely to become infected than men.
–A very high percentage of infected women have been faithful to their husbands but contract the disease due to his promiscuity.
–In African society AIDS widows often have their husband’s property seized back by his family, leaving them destitute and outcast.
–In the affluent west, antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) are affordable and permit those infected by HIV to live long, reasonably normal lives. In Africa, however, very few can afford the ARVs.
There are many more statistics like these, but they all add up to a terribly broken society, being ravaged by this brutal disease on a scale most of us would find unimaginable in the USA.
Let us be thankful that we are acting to try to help these people, and let us press ever harder.
I can’t remember where I read this, but in something I read the author recommended that whenever we read the word “leper” or “leprosy” in the Bible, subsitute the words “AIDS victim” and “HIV/AIDS.” That is a convicting exercise.