It’s safe to say that no Christian community I've been a part of has ever brought up the U.S. domestic crisis of HIV/AIDS. In fact, I can’t recall ever hearing an American Christian even utter the words.
And in conversation with others, I know that too many have only heard about it from pastors who preach that homosexuality is an unforgiveable sin and that HIV/AIDS is God’s wrath at work — despite the fact that HIV/AIDS affects people of many ethnicities and sexual orientations, and that the infection is often transmitted in ways other than sexual intercourse. Hearing Christians speak seriously and nonjudgmentally about HIV/AIDS, with the intent of acting to help eradicate the illness and protect the lives of those whom the illness has affected, is too rare.
This frightens me, as HIV/AIDS is an epidemic — one that is currently directly affecting the lives of more than 1.2 million people. In 2014, 12,333 deaths were attributed to the infection. In 2015, 39,513 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with HIV. African-Americans account for 45 percent of HIV diagnoses in the U.S., and gay and bisexual men account for 82 percent of the diagnoses. This means that, as a black, gay man — the cards I was dealt when I was born — I’m at an extremely high risk of contracting HIV in my lifetime.
And that’s why, in just a couple of hours, I will be tested for HIV/AIDS.
This World AIDS Day, I hope that Christians in the U.S. — and all around the world — will each take it upon themselves to do something to contribute to the research of HIV/AIDS and to the health and well-being of people living with the illness. Many Christians choose to do nothing because of their stances against homosexuality and the LGBTQ community, or because of others' taboos around it. But I think it's a mistake to let Christian morals get in the way of Christian love. It seems like a perversion of love to be passive in the lives of others when they are in need, to stand idle as they die alongside you. That doesn’t seem Christian at all.
So, as Christians, and as human beings in solidarity with others, please stand this World AIDS Day — this month — for the rest of your life, if need be — with the many who are fighting for their lives and the many others who are worried for theirs. Be with them, the way that Jesus was with the sick, the way he aided so many, the way he healed so many. Be with them and remain by their side.
I think it’s safe to say that that sort of love — “loving your neighbor as yourself” — is the entire law of the Bible, fulfilled.