No, it’s not pirate day here. I’m getting all up and ready to leave in about a day for this year’s Aids Red Ribbon Ride! This will be my second time doing this remarkable 400+ mile bike ride around New York’s Finger Lakes in an effort to raise $$$ and awareness for HIV/AIDS – or, to be more specific, for AIDS Care Rochester – which has recently changed its name to Trillium Health.
I am not known for my athletic prowess. (Ok, that’s something of an understatement!) Some of you may be familiar with the depressing results of my first attempt at “running” a 5k when I finished behind the guy in the gigantic (yes, gigantic) pig outfit. Having said that, I like riding my bike. It isn’t a top-of-the-line bike; I’m not in great shape, but I enjoy it and it’s a great cause.
You see, we don’t talk about HIV/AIDS much anymore. Indeed, large parts of the Church haven’t ever really talked about it – at least not substantively. We’ve given lip-service to “those poor children in Africa,” but the basic truth is that we’ve done an abysmal job at responding to HIV/AIDS – which, Nelson Mandela rightly noted “is no longer just a disease, it is a human rights issue” and “by all accounts… the greatest health crisis in human history.”
I can see the elephant in the room. Churches don’t talk about it because they think HIV/AIDS is a “gay issue” – some of us even remember the acronym GRID. I’ll let you in on a little secret. It is a “gay issue,” and a “straight issue,” and a “black issue,” and a “white issue,” and a “middle class issue,” and a … well… you get the picture, don’t you? HIV/AIDS is an issue, and it’s one we cannot ignore.
This morning, one of my friends posted a Facebook link to the US News & World Report article suggesting that “if HIV continues to spread at current rates, half of college-aged gay men will have the infection by the age of 50.” You run a bit straighter? Well how about this, “in 2006, nearly half of HIV-positive adolescents were unaware of their infection” (and that’s regardless of sexual orientation). Oh, and by the way, all of those statistics you see about “men who have sex with men” – they’re not all “gay.” Some of them are as straight as I-80, but one evening “all those years ago” earned them a place in the big section of that famous pie graph.
In the end, though, none of that really matters. How someone gets sick is irrelevant. Whether someone is gay or straight is irrelevant. If someone uses/used IV drugs is irrelevant. Who someone got the virus from is irrelevant.
The question is: Is someone sick?
The answer is: Heal them.
I’m not particularly gifted at healing; so, I’m riding. Why? Because others do have that gift and this is one of the things I can do to help them!
You don’t even have to ride! You can simply help by clicking here and giving what you can – even the tiniest amount makes a difference.
Grace and peace,