I have a sad confession for you today. Until this year I wasn’t even aware that there was a World AIDS day. I decided today I would share with you a little part of my new world and things that I did not pay attention to because it didn’t personally affect my life. This affects so many lives!
Today is World AIDS Day. World AIDS Day is held on December 1 each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.
HIV stands for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus which attacks the body’s immune system — the body’s defense against diseases.
An estimated 2.1 million children worldwide (under 15 years of age) are infected with HIV, with 430,000 children becoming newly infected each year. Ninety percent of these children become infected with HIV by mother-to-child transmission (MTCT). Without intervention, the risk of MTCT among infants born to women who are HIV positive ranges from 15% to 45%. Without effective treatment, one third of infected infants will die before their first birthday, and half will die before two years of age.
The saddest part of this is that if the mother KNOWS she is HIV+, is treated, of the new born baby given the correct drugs, as well as not breast-feeding and the baby will stay HIV free. Unfortunately, in this area of the country, very few women have their babies in hospitals, and have no pre-natal exams, treatment, or information.
The number one means of new cases of AIDS in Nigeria would be reduced if women know that they need to visit a clinic and get an HIV test so that they know their HIV status. Do you know why this is such a challenge? Many women don’t know this can save their baby’s life and are afraid to know their status because of the prejudice and ignorance of the disease. People are dying because of lack of information!
Having first heard about AIDS in 1986, I used to think how could anyone not know how you get AIDS. I know now. Lack of information.
Today we marched from the clinic, chanting, “No more HIV”, handing out stickers that give information on HIV, and towels, and bracelets with this information. We marched 10 kilometers. Chanting, handing out thngs, talking about HIV. It was wonderful to see our staff, volunteers and others put their whole hearts into this to inform their countrymen. If they don’t know their HIV status, they now know where to find out now! That is one of the reasons we are here in Nigeria. To save lives. After lives are saved, then you can talk to them about their souls. God is good! He is making huge strides here on the Mambilla Plateau and Dan and I are humbled and over-whelmed at times that God can even use us in His work here in Nigeria!
My thought for today comes from Elizabeth Taylor, “It is bad enough that people are dying of AIDS, but no one should die of ignorance.” – I like that !