Helping People with HIV

February 22, 2010

We all know that anyone who has HIV needs help.

But what kind of help?  And how to help?

What if your family member has HIV?  Or one of your work colleagues or fellow students?  What if a neighbour has HIV?  What should we do?

The first thing is to be a good friend.  Please do not be afraid.  Your friend or family member who has HIV will not harm you!

You may be nervous – since it is such a new thing for you – and you may feel awkward and even embarrassed.  But remember that your friend really needs you.

Now is the time when you need to be most friendly and helpful to them.

Remember that they are still human.  Having HIV means that my body has a virus inside me – but I am still me.  I still have feelings and emotions – joys and fears.  I am still precious in the eyes of God and a valuable person to have.  I still have much that I can offer and bless others around me with.

But also remember that they need you.

Think about when you were last very ill.  What did you want?  What did you need?  What were you thankful for?

A comforting shoulder to cry on.  A hot fresh meal that someone brought for you.  Help with looking after some of the chores that you were not able to do because of your illness.  A person who listened to you and encouraged you….   The list goes on.

So if you got that kind of help from others – how about doing the same for your friend with HIV.

Here are some things that you cannot go wrong with:

* visit

* listen

* understand

* bring some fresh food – or fruits

* play with their kids

* speak encouraging words

* help with medical appointments

* see what practical things can be done around the house

* pray

Your friendship can be a life-saver to a person with HIV.  Literally!


Life-long… long life?

February 1, 2010

We are often asked a very simple but very deep question: “how long do I have to live?”

The question is usually asked by one of our friends who has found out that they are HIV positive.  Or it is asked by a relative or friend on behalf of a person who has HIV.

The answer used to be one of “well, it depends on how healthy you are now” and we used to usually talk about 7-10 years after the HIV was originally contracted.

That has all changed now.

Today, when I am asked the question, my response is: “I don’t know! You may end up living as long as I will – or even longer!”

We now have medications which do a good job at suppressing the HIV in most people.  These medicines are adding years, and even decades on to people’s lives.  And our hope is that further medicines will be developed as time goes on.

We are praying for a complete cure too.

But in the meantime – it also depends on whether I am willing to fight!  If I have HIV, then I need to look after myself.  If I need to start the Anti Retroviral Therapy (the main medications used to suppress the HIV virus), then I need to take it life-long!  Every day!  Without fail!

Taking this medication alone is not easy.  Its a life-long effort – and if I am taking the ART, I will need others to help me in this.   My family, my friends, my doctor and health helpers – people who will encourage me and pray with me…

But the hope is this – a life long medication – plus my efforts to fight the virus in me – will lead to a long life!

We are today working with people who have had the virus for over 15 years – and longer – and are living active, meaningful lives.

At the same time, we have seen people who have not taken care of themselves deteriorate and die.  HIV remains a real challenge.

What about you?  Or a loved one you have?  Don’t wait.  Get help.  Fight on.   We are all in this together!