Thursday, August 20, 2015

Love is Good Medicine

Dr Durrell's Spiritual Prescriptions (a bi-monthly column in the Florida Agenda)
"Love is Good Medicine"
A young friend of mine recently tested positive for HIV. I was heartbroken. Of course I’m relieved that he got tested, that he knows his status, and that he is seeking treatment. And, I am confident that he will respond well to the treatment and will live a long, productive life. But I also know that care-free, medication-free days are a thing of the past for him. I know the life-saving medications might have inconvenient side-effects. I know that he will worry about who to tell and when to tell and how to tell about his HIV status, because even in 2015 people with HIV are still often stigmatized. My friend is single, and I know that revealing his status to prospective sexual partners might cause him some embarrassment, regret, and anxiety. And, I imagine that some people will back away from entering into intimacy with this beautiful, delightful young man because of his status.
In an age of PrEP and of effective treatments that can help most people manage their HIV, AIDS is not the all-consuming terror that it was in my young adult days. Consequently, we’ve let our guard down a bit, and some in our community have become a bit judgmental of those who seroconvert in this day and age. But the truth is that HIV has not yet been cured (I, for one, continue to hope and pray to see the day when a cure is found and made accessible to all people), and until HIV is cured, some will continue to get it. While I hope that people will be very careful in their romantic lives, I also hope we will remember that HIV isn’t something that anyone deserves. It isn’t bad karma or divine punishment. It is a virus and viruses tend to spread.
I don’t want anyone to get HIV ever again, but some will. And for those of us who are HIV positive, I don’t want any of us to ever give up hope for healthy, vibrant lives and I don’t want any of us to ever be ashamed of our health status or afraid that we are unlovable because of it. And because people still must live with HIV, I hope all of us will choose to be supportive, compassionate, and kind. Fear and condemnation didn’t do any good in the 80s and 90s when AIDS was ravishing our community, and fear and condemnation still won’t serve us well today.
The old slogan, “Hate HIV, not People with HIV” still rings true for me. HIV will one day be completely defeated, but until that glorious and miraculous day, let us remember to love ourselves and one another. Love is still good medicine, and it is still very much needed.

Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins is the Senior Minister of Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale.

No comments: