Today is World AIDS Day.
Since 1988, the world has set aside December 1 to make the critzen of the world know about this deadly disease. And that its victims are men, women and children from all walks of life, from most of the nations around the world. The poor as well as the rich. Those who live in Africa, China, the UK as well as the USA.
It isn't a politcal matter or a spirtual one.
I was a LPN in those days (License Practical Nurse) and doing staff relief at a nursing home when I encountered my first AIDS patients. I literally tripped into their room; there was a crack in the DoorWay and I tripped over it. There were two male patients that were recieveing very little care. When I asked about why, I learned they had AIDS.
During this time, there was still major fear over the disease and still views as a "Gay Disease." Even doctors and nurses were refusing to care for such patients.
Feeling this was wrong I went to the Head Nurse and offered to care for these two men. I was removed from all other duty and from then on cared only for the AIDS Patients.
Why did I do this? Because these are the men (and women) Yeshua Himself would have reached out to. An AIDS patient needs to know and feel the love of G-d as anyone.
Later, I would care for AIDS patients in their home. One was a woman who's husband was bi-sexual and she contract the disease from him. She only learned of her husband's behavoiur after her hubsand's death. Children born to drug mums who used unclean needles, grandmothers who had a blood transfusion. All have since passed away.
I had often been asked if I was afraid. No. I didn't have sex or exchange body fluilds. I wore gloves when dealing with dressings, needles. My patients were more in danger of me if I had a cold than I was of them. But my job wasn't just giving pills and dumping bedpans. It was holding a hand because a family memeber was afraid to touch their loved ones. It was giving a hug, a smile and stuffed animal. It was bringing Starbucks and chocolate chip cookies, praying with and for them. Holding my patients as they cried, crying with them.
I still miss them all.
I have since retired from nursing. I am very glad to hear how far we have come in fighting this Killer.
But we still have a way's to go. Our blood supply is now clean and the chances of contracting the virus from blood is slight.
When asked what is the best way not to contract the disease, I tell most it isn't the answer they wish to hear. It is this: don't have sex until your married. I do not believe handing out condoms is the answer.
As Messianic Jews, my husband and I believe in abstaining from sex until marriage. We believe that "true love waits." We believe that it is the parents right and responsibility to teach their young people (their children) to keep pure before marriage. When single, we restrained ourselves before marriage and very glad we did. (see Purity Ring and Remaining Tidy ) When I taught teens as a single woman and now as a married one, I teach them that their bodies are holy and precious, not to be given lightly to any man who isn't willing to promise before G-d and Man to love, protect and cherish you. I made that mistake as a teenager and it is one of the few regrets of my life.
Thank G-d for His forgiveness.
But it isn't just teenagers that need to learn restrain. Many adults have learned to late that a one night stand can lead to a life of regret, even a trip to the Funeral Home within a few years time.
Mark and I as believers in the Holy One chose to lead holy lives and during our courtship, we knew young ones were watching us and still do. As singles and a married couple, we are role models and it is one we are both honoured and humbled by.
Therefore, we do not believe parents should give their kids condoms and tell them "safe sex" is the way to go. We don't believe in telling them if they are going to have sex anyway, to wear a condom, to "play it safe". We believe that sends double message -- both for their physical health and for their spiritual health. Those statements sell teenagers short. They do listen to their elders, they watch them closely. Not every teen boy is thinking of "only one thing," Not every teenage girl thinks wearing a band-aide of a skirt is "hot." My niece who is 15 and just celebrated being Bat Mitvzah has already made it clear she wishes to marry a man like her Papa and her uncle Mark.
Girls who have their dad in their lives and know they are loved and treasured, rarely going looking for it in the arms a sweet talking male.
I have already been told someone who read this journal that her daughter wishes a purity ring.
I am aware that this is not a common held view, that we are seen as being judgemental, narrow-minded and pushing our views on others. That we don't live in the "real world" and "wait until we have children of our own."
Well, as a former AIDS nurse allow me to share a few facts:
Condoms do not work. They can break. And they work only about 30% of the time. The material condoms are made of supple slim protection.
The disease is still contracted.
Birth control doesn't always work. Children are still conceived.
Boys (and men) who swear their undying love, when they learn they are going to be a Papa, leave. I know; my Dad did.
Couples who are wishing to be married and have been sexually active in the past, should be tested for any sexual disease. It is only fair to their future mate.
AIDS is still a killer. Those who have the disease and their family, need our love, support and prayers, not our condemnation. If I was still nursing, this is the field I would still be working in.
It is my hope and prayer that one day we will find a cure for this disease.
Until that day, May G-d give comfort to those who are sick and bless those who HealthCare Workers who serve them.