The statistic that gripped my heart then and still makes me fight back tears is this . . .
"HIV medications available in the West have made HIV a manageable chronic illness, but in poor countries, 50% of children who are undiagnosed and/or untreated will die by the age of 2 yrs."
This amazing adoptive mama has a precious son that could have been part of this statistic. When he came home at 7 months, his viral load was 2.5 million. The doctors said he wouldn't have made it to his 2nd birthday. (posted with permission)
But last week I rejoiced as my friend shared that after just 6 months home, her son's viral load is now UNDETECTABLE! (This doesn't mean the virus is gone, but that there is such a small amount of the HIV virus in the blood that the levels are undetectable!)
I can't wait for the day (and oh I pray that day will come) when we will rejoice in Easton's undetectable viral load!! I have such HOPE. But it breaks my heart that there are millions of mothers, fathers, and children who have no such hope.
Do you see the amazing, life-saving difference that having access to HIV medication can make? Do you see how important it is for families to set aside fears and adopt HIV positive orphans so they might have hope? Do you see how important it is for HIV medication to be made available and affordable no matter what country you live in?
Another issue is the reality that there is absolutely no reason that an infant should become infected with HIV from their mother. This mother-to-child transmission is almost gone in first world countries, but it is shocking that massive numbers of newborns in third world countries are still being infected with the virus each year.
The video below gives a good recap of the last 30 years from the eyes of the children that this disease has attacked and communicates the hope of NO MORE mother-to-child transmissions. It also shows our history . . . how the fear and stigma began immediately and is something people living with HIV still have to face each day.
I started my series on HIV months ago, but for some reason writing a post about the history of this disease has just proven too much for me. I've read and researched, but can barely wrap my mind around all that has happened with HIV in the last 30 years.
The impact is massive. The death toll is unspeakable. The stigma is shameful. The corruption is sickening. The injustice is heart-wrenching. I couldn't begin to put it into words.
But there is hope.
ARVs are saving lives. Fear is being reduced. People are fighting the stigma and speaking out. Precious orphans are being adopted. Medicine is advancing and hopefully one day soon there will be a cure.
And above all this, I've been reminded through my study of 1 Peter of our greatest Hope of all . . . one that can't be touched by a virus or tainted by corruption.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
1 Peter 1:3-5
(If you want to actually know details of the history of HIV (since I was basically no help!), definitely read 28 Stories of AIDS in Africa!)