Excerpt for Living Positive With HIV and AIDs by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Living Positive

With

HIV/AIDS


Johnson F. Odesola




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Living Positives with HIV/AIDS © 2018 Johnson F. Odesola

Living Positives with HIV/AIDS

By

Johnson F. Odesola

ISBN:

Smashwords Edition

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite eBook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

All Rights Reserved

No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form, Stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by Any means - electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without prior written permission of the author and publisher.

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are taken from

The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright© 1982, by Thomas, Inc.

and the Holy Bible, King James Version, Kerr’s Bible Handbook,

Cruden’s Concordance Evangel Bible Project

Published By

Johnson Funso Odesola at Smashwords




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DEDICATION

This booklet is dedicated to all the innocent children of Africa that are HIV/AIDS positive, the Orphans, Widows, Widowers and all those who are involved in the fight for gender balance.




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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Thanks be to God Almighty for His wonderful working power and His inspiration that made this particular volume possible.

Special thanks to Daddy and Mummy, E.A Adeboye, an outstanding couple of God ordained for this generation. Their infectious courage and focus to fight against HIV/AIDS, coupled with the terrain where I am based now compelled me to search for what I could contribute to the fight against this pandemic. Sincere thanks to Pastor and Pastor (Mrs.).E.A. Odeyemi, my friend, uncle and mentor. More grace to your elbow Mum and Dad. Pastor & Mrs. E A Kalejaiye, Pastor & Mrs. Funso Adedayo, Peter & Sola Amenkhienan, Bayo & Margaret Adeyokunnu, Dele and Tayo Balogun, Charles Kpande, Ola Gbadegin, Remi & Mummy Akintunde, Bisi Summonu, Gbenga & Yetunde Ilesanmi - you are true friends indeed. I have continually benefited from your teachings, anointing and your assistance.

What can I do without the support and encouragement of my sweetheart, Bisi? I appreciate you together with my home champions - Titi, Uche and Enoch.

Johnson F. ODESOLA




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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preamble

Chapter 1

Why Me, Lord?

Problem of Evil

Resisting the Evil of HIV/AIDS

Chapter 2

HIV/AIDS and Life

AIDS and Gender Imbalances

Sexuality and Transmission

Chapter 3

Shock, Outlook and Information

The Stigmatization

Roles of Education

Sexual Orientation

Treatment

Chapter 4

The Plight of Africa

Types and Sub-types of HIV

Nutrition, Health, and Hygiene

Chapter 5

Appendix

How HIV Virus Spreads

Road Map of Actions

References

About The Author

Other Books By The Same Author

Author’s Connects




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PREAMBLE

So much has been written about HIV/AIDS in Africa in the past few years. Almost too much, one might say! So just what is the purpose then, what is the value, of putting out yet another set of treatise on this serious problem that infects so many Africans and affects everyone living in this continent?

This book tries to present a holistic view of the disease, its causes and consequences and offers a number of social, economic, and religious perspectives to the challenges presented by the disease.

It is prepared out of a deep love of the people and hence a passion to see the problem of HIV/AIDS dealt with more urgently and effectively by the various African governments, international agencies, civil society families and individuals.

These documents have been prepared with the purpose of bringing the issues of HIV/AIDS together in one package. It is also meant to provide a readily accessible educational tool for use by NGOs, church leaders and members, health parishioners, political leaders and ordinary citizens. It is hoped that the ideas presented here will prompt deeper reflection and greater action in an intelligent and effective fashion.

In reading these reflections, I am aware that not everyone will agree with the analysis and recommendations proffered. The key question will be: Why do you disagree and what do you propose as the alternative? If the book stirs this sort of discussion and response, it will have served its purpose of serving the people of Nigeria, Malawi, Zambia and people all over Africa.

Some study questions are presented at the end of this book to help deepen the reflections and widen the responses. There are also prayers to reinforce our faithful actions for the future.

The PACT will be very pleased to hear readers’ reactions to this book, part of our mission is ‘Propagating and promoting faith in a healthy society.




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CHAPTER ONE

WHY ME, LORD?

The account in Mathew’s gospel relating to the massacre of the innocents as attested to by the words of the prophet Jeremiah regarding Israel is here very relevant: “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamenting and weeping bitterly. It is Rachel weeping for children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more” (Mathew 2:18).

These words express very well the sorrow and agony that HIV/AIDS means for those who live with it or who are members of affected families. Throughout Zambia, Malawi and Nigeria, families and communities have the sad experience of this lamentation and bitter weeping. We know elderly parents who cannot be comforted for their children who died in the prime of young womanhood or manhood, because they are no more. We know young children who refuse to be comforted for their parents or siblings, because they are no more.

The stark realism of Dickson Ngoma’s story tells it all:

“When my mother was sick, I looked after her. One day she fell very ill and I found a taxi to take her to the hospital. She died in the taxi on the way to the hospital. Before she died, she said goodbye and kissed me. I really loved my mother. I still love her. I miss her very much.”

Dickson is from Kitwe, the Copper-belt province of Zambia. He was eight years old when his mother died.

Why? Why? Why Me?

Similar tragic bereavements occurring daily throughout the country force the difficult questions: why did this happen to an innocent child? Why is this happening now? Why me? Why is my family being hit so hard? What has gone wrong in our community, in our continent? What have I done to deserve this?

On a scale that we have never known before, our people are swaying forwards and backwards through the various phases of managing their grief and loss. As they do so, their experiences of the dehumanizing suffering of HIV/AIDS and the emptiness, poverty and difficulties that it leaves behind force them and from them us the most heart-rending of all laments: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Problem of Evil

Have we been forsaken by God? Does God care? How can a good God allow this kind of thing? What wrong have we done?

These are very basic questions that HIV/AIDS raises. Very powerfully and urgently, the disease forces us to confront in its starkest form the problem of evil: how can we reconcile faith in good, loving and all-powerful God with the evil of HIV/AIDS and the immense suffering it brings to innocent persons, especially children?

Our problem is very similar to that faced by the author of the book of Job: if God is good and all-loving, He could not want this suffering; if God is all- powerful, He could stop it; that being so, then why does He not do something about it? Or is it that we have gone wrong somewhere and I have only myself to blame?

AIDS Is Not A Sin

In a world with AIDS, the same Book of Job offers a critically important answer to the question. When all the talking was ended, God vindicated Job and condemned the comforters who alleged that Job must have sinned. In effect, what God was saying were definitely not a sign of divine punishment or God’s displeasure!

Likewise, we must be very firm in rejecting any tendency to associate HIV/AIDS with sin or punishment by God. A group of international conference put it very clearly when they said in their pastoral statements that; “looking at AIDS patients as sinners commended by God is a wicked distortion of the truth”.

God is Present (meaning?) in the Person with AIDS, saying that AIDS is not a punishment from God is some help, especially in the face of so many judgmental and stigmatizing attitudes. But we need to go further than this. An incident occurred in one of the concentration camps set up by Nazi Germany long time ago. This story is told by Eli Wesel, an inmate in one of the camps and later a recipient of the Nobel peace prize for his work in bearing witness to what happened. He describes what happened when the camp authorities hanged two Jewish men and a youth in front of all the assembled prisoners:

“The men died quickly, but the death throes of the youth lasted for half an hour: ‘Where is God? Where is He?’ Some asked behind me. As the youth still hung in torment in the noose after a long time, I heard the man call again, “where is He? He is there, He is hanging there on the gallows.’’

In our crisis of HIV/AIDS, that is the faith we need. We need to have the vision to be able to see and say: God is here in this suffering person. In this worn, emaciated body, racked with pain and unable to control the diarrhea, God is present. This person is a member of Christ’s body. In this sick and suffering person Christ continues to suffer, because the body of Christ has AIDS.

Closeness of God in Physical Suffering and Death

If we are to grasp this, we need to recall what the basis of our Christian faith is. Our most fundamental belief is that the greatest good the world has ever received was accomplished by great physical suffering followed by physical rebirth.

As Jesus hung on the crossed, a shuddering “worm and no man”, moaning in pain, God seemed very far away. Yet, God was probably abandoned on the crosser to humanity than at the very moment that Jesus felt most abandoned on the Cross. At that moment, God gave an unqualified Yes to the person and mission of Jesus and overcame the evil of suffering, pain and death. As His son endured unspeakable humiliations, suffering and death, God became powerfully and eternally involved with human suffering and every effort to overcome it. God entered into solidarity with every suffering person and with those who care for them.

The lifting up of Jesus from mockery, pain and death led to his affirmation by God, the outpouring of the spirit, the life of the resurrection. The griddling down of our brothers and sisters in the humiliations, suffering and death brought by AIDS (and other sicknesses) leads to God affirming both them and all who minister to them. God is with them because he is there and must be there –wherever anyone is suffering. He is not remote but rather is a very near and compassionate God, in solidarity of identification with those experiencing the suffering, in solidarity of community with those who take steps to relieve or prevent it.

Resisting the Evil of AIDS

This picture of suffering as a kind of a re-enactment of God’s powerful and sympathetic and transforming presence to His son on the Cross, should not blind us to the fact that HIV/AIDS is evil and can never be condoned. God does not condone it, but in fact strongly resists it and all forms of human suffering.

God’s resistance to the evil of AIDS is shown in two ways. First, in the time and the way God works with the infected person to overcome the suffering, and if it cannot be overcome, to transform it. And second, in the way God works with those who are infected, to enable them to overcome or transform the suffering that is being experience.

Pain and suffering in a dying person are terrible things. They tear the heart out of us, leaving us desperate and frustrated. But we also know that in some instances, perhaps more than we actually realize, the suffering person eventually passes to a new stage of peace and acceptance. They may not be able to put the words to, but deep within themselves they are confident that God’s wish for them will be fulfilled, that they have life, and have it to the full. They know that their Redeemer lives and that in their poor scarred flesh they shall see God.

AIDS Challenges our Faith

If the body of Christ has AIDS, then we all have AIDS. Paul the Apostle tells us that we are Christ’s body so that ‘if one part is hurt, then all the parts share its pain’ (Corinthians 12:26). Somehow, we all share in the condition of the infected person. HIV/AIDS is our personal problem and responsibility, not the problem of other people ‘out there’. And responsibility is ministering compassionate solidarity to those who are infected, doing what we can to mitigate their pain, help them transform their suffering and bring it about that will be less of evil in our world.

That is a major challenge that HIV/AIDS poses for our practical faith, our faith that does justice. Confronted by what is occurring in our communities and families, we have to learn how to give, lived expression in our lives to our belief in the words of a sage (meaning?): ‘The joys and hopes, the grief and anguishes of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted in any way, are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguishes of followers of Christ as well.’ So if the first challenge that HIV/AIDS presents to our faith is how to reconcile this terrible evil with our utter conviction of the goodness of God, the second challenge asks us what we are doing about it. Are we bringing life and hope the experience of God to those who are infected or affected? What are we doing to stop this disease and to roll it back? As members of the AIDS- infected body of Christ, the one thing we cannot do is to stand idly and do nothing.




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CHAPTER TWO

HIV/AIDS AND LIFE

HIV/AIDS is about many things. Clearly it is about suffering and healing, dying and death. But it is also about sex, living and originating new life. For very many, especially women, it is about coping and managing on an inadequate or non-existent income. For others, it is about caring for children who have no one to look after them. It is also about caring for old people whose adult children are no more.

Together, the disease and the epidemic that resulted from it cover almost every aspect of human life. As they do so they give rise to a whole host of moral, ethical and theological questions. In many cases HIV/AIDS highlights and magnifies the ethical implications of existing situations such as widespread poverty or the unjust treatment and exploitation of women. In other cases, HIV/AIDS raises new issues with ethical dimensions such as in the areas of stigma and discrimination or access to antiretroviral drugs (ARVs). In many circumstances, responding to these issues implies two judgments that tend to strengthen each other.

This should not be, it is unethical.

This must be changed for it makes the HIV/AIDS situation worse.

Areas of ethical and theological challenge by HIV/AIDS would include:

1. Protecting truth and excluding denial and stigma

2. Remedying the status of women and correcting gender imbalances

3. Doing something about the sinful conditions of the unjust distribution of wealth, widespread poverty and oppressive globalization

4. Ensuring the protection of human rights that are threatened by HIV/AIDS

5. Understanding sexuality and dealing with its practice

6. Reconciling the demands of confidentiality with those of the public good

7. Ensuring a comprehensive practice of personal and communal responsibility to both those who are HIV infected or affected by it.

8. Balancing the competing demands of AIDS treatment and HIV prevention when it comes to the allocation of resources.

A few of those issues are dealt with below.

AIDS and Gender Imbalances

HIV/AIDS has an inappropriate effect on lives of women. On physiological and health grounds, they are at greater risk of becoming infected with the virus. On social and economic grounds are they are more vulnerable to infection. And when HIV/AIDS is present in a household women are likely to carry the larger share of the burden and to be more expensively affected.

There can be little doubt that HIV/AIDS is increasingly becoming a disease with the face of a woman or girl. In the words of Stephen Lewis, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Enjoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, ‘the pandemic is now, conclusively and irreversibly, a ferocious assault on women and girls worldwide.’

Theologically, this is not as it should be. The scripture tells us that ‘male and female, God made them.’ In this image and likeness of God, He made them.’ There is no question here of one being` subordinate to the other, of one carrying a heavier burden than the other. There is no theological reason for the concentration AIDS among women.

Neither is the ‘feminization of AIDS’ ethically right. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights affirms that ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’ But until such a time when women‘s full dignity as human persons and their full equality with men is proclaimed forcefully and practiced in every walk and stage of life, this article will remain a pipedream. Humanity will remain out of harmony with its best aspiration. It will not be true to itself.

Poverty

HIV/AIDS has been a democratic disease. Although in its early days it occurred mainly among the better offs, it settled down fairly quickly to targeting the poor and vulnerable. The poor are at high risk of HIV infection; the disease makes the poor poorer. In circumstances of personal poverty and underdevelopment, HIV transmission occurs more easily while the period of HIV infection prior to the emergence of critical AIDS is shorter.

Circumstances over which they have virtually no control put the poor at risk of HIV infection. Such circumstances include a greater likelihood of untreated STIs; absence of information on their own HIV status or that of their sexual partner; the increased possibility of high-risk behavior because of difficulty in accessing and storing condoms correctly as well as major constraints in using them properly; and economic pressures to resort to the sale of sex to generate household income.

In addition, many factors that are almost entirely outside their control make the poor more vulnerable to infection. Long prior to HIV infection, the immune system may be weakened because of their low health nutrition status, their limited access to healthcare, their inability to meet the cost involved to meet the health services and their increased exposure to other health hazards, such as malaria, TB, or gastro-intestinal problems. The poor constitute the majority of those who migrate from place to in search of work and better living conditions. But only too often they replace joblessness, overcrowding, poor housing, inadequate sanitation, and poor health and education facilities with similar situations elsewhere. In this way, they carry the burden of their HIV vulnerability with them. Clearly this is not the way things should be for forty percent or more humanity. God did not make the world so that things should be like this.


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