Aids—What Hope for the Future?
APART from the lack of drugs to cure or prevent HIV infection, other factors work against suppressing the disease. One of these is that many people, not willing to change their life-style, are willing to risk infection. In the United States, for example, the infection rate has remained steady, despite a drop in the number of people who have developed full-blown AIDS. The reason suggested by the Associated Press is that “many people are not heeding warnings about prevention.”
In the world’s developing nations, reportedly home to about 93 percent of those infected with HIV, there are additional problems in confronting the disease. Many of these countries are too poor to provide even basic health-care services. Even if the new drugs were available in those lands—and for the most part they are not—the price of a year of treatment would cost more than many people earn in a lifetime!
Yet, let us assume that a new, inexpensive drug were developed that would actually cure the disease. Would such a drug reach all those who need it? Probably not. Each year, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, about four million children die from five diseases that can be prevented by inexpensive, existing vaccines.
What about infected people living in countries where they cannot obtain drugs for treatment? Ruth Mota, of International Health Programs in Santa Cruz, California, has helped organize HIV prevention and care programs in dozens of developing countries. She says: “From my experience, a positive attitude is just as important as access to medication. I know people who have lived with HIV for 10 to 15 years and who have never taken a medication. Medications are beneficial, but healing is much broader than putting chemicals in your body. It involves attitude, social support, spirituality, and nutrition.”
There Will Be a Solution
Is there any reason to believe that AIDS will one day be vanquished? Yes, there is. The best hope is contained in the words of what many call the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father (Paternoster). In that prayer, recorded in the Bible book of Matthew, we implore that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9, 10) It is not God’s will for humans to be forever plagued with illness. God will answer that prayer. In doing so, he will bring an end not only to AIDS but to all other diseases that plague humankind. Then, “no resident will say: ‘I am sick.’”—Isaiah 33:24.
Meanwhile, the best strategy is prevention. For many diseases, there are two options: You can either prevent them or perhaps cure them. With HIV, there is no such choice. It can be prevented, but at present it cannot be cured. Why take risks that endanger your life? Prevention is certainly better than no cure.
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“Healing is much broader than putting chemicals in your body. It involves attitude, social support, spirituality, and nutrition.”—Ruth Mota
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“The Congregation Was Wonderful”
The apostle Paul urged fellow Christians: “Let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.” (Galatians 6:10) The mother of Karen, mentioned in the first article, relates how the local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses reacted when they learned that Karen and Bill were ill with HIV. She says: “The congregation was wonderful. When Bill came down with pneumonia, Karen was ill herself and was struggling to care for him and the children. The brothers cleaned their house, repaired their car, and washed their laundry. They helped them care for legal affairs and move to another home. They bought and cooked food for them. There was a genuine outpouring of emotional, spiritual, and material support.”
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Marital fidelity may prevent HIV infection