Today is December 1st – World AIDS Day.
One day out of 365.
One day to focus on the 33 million* people around the globe who have HIV/AIDS.
One day to remember the 2,900,000 people who died of AIDS in 2007.
One day to grieve for the 300,000 of those that were children.
One day to think about the 15 million children orphaned by AIDS.
One day to wonder how the 2,000,000 children living with HIV/AIDS are surviving.
In the U.S. we are largely isolated from the tragedy that is HIV/AIDS. Since 1981, one million Americans have been diagnosed with this disease. Roughly half have died. Thankfully the percentage has greatly decreased in recent years with the introduction of antiretroviral drugs. ( In 2007, 14,561 people died in the U.S.) What was once an everyday news story, it now seems to make headlines only when someone famous is involved. For the most part we remain largely untouched. How many of us even know someone with HIV?
It is easy to sit back and judge, to write off people who have contracted this disease through their own actions. There are many, sadly a lot of them are Christians, who dismiss HIV/AIDS as judgment on an immoral culture. (That’s a whole ‘nother soapbox I’m not getting on today.)
But what about the innocents? What about those 2 million children living with HIV/AIDS because of the actions of others?
3,792 are here in America, for the most part receiving top-notch medical care. (Death rates have fallen by 80% since Antiretroviral drugs were introduced.)
But there are millions of children around the globe with HIV/AIDS. Many of them orphaned.
Some are receiving medical care. Most are not.
I could throw a hundred more statistics at you, but instead I’m going to give you a name.
A little boy, not quite 3 years old, who lives in Addis Ababa.
For now we’ll call him “A”.
He is an orphan. He has HIV.
He also has a family waiting for him here in the U.S.
God in his infinite wisdom has, it seems, seen fit to place A with one of the most amazing families I know. Dustin, Jen and their 4 kids are living, breathing examples of God’s mercy and compassion. (You may remember that they were our traveling buddies when we picked up the kids last December.)
Maybe World AIDS Day is spurring you to action? There are dozens of worthy organizations that you could donate to today.
But, if you want to make a difference in a little more personal manner, maybe you’ll consider contributing toward Dustin & Jen’s adoption expenses to bring A home next Spring.
I hope that today you’ll find a way to make a difference in the HIV/AIDS pandemic – whether with your time, your voice or your wallet.
By the way, Jen doesn’t know I’m doing this and I’m sure she’ll squawk at me 🙂
*Statistics based on 2007 figures, the latest full report available from UNAIDS.