Countering the conspiracy of silence in the fight against HIV/AIDS

    By Will Perry, III


    [dropcap]S[/dropcap]ince 1982, when the virus and disease were finally given a name, there have been several conspiracy theories that have surfaced and influenced the thinking and behavioral patterns of many communities, particularly communities of color.  Theories based on misinformation, premature hypotheses, limited research and cultural biases saturated American societies throughout the 80’s.  The 90’s brought better education and treatment concerning HIV/AIDS, but the damage had already been done and the weed seeds of lies had already been planted and started to take root in the minds of many.

    Today, we are still fighting against the antiquated, fear motivated, ignorant mindsets that have caused so many to fall victim to HIV/AIDS.  Despite countless education, risk assessment, testing, prayer and awareness campaigns, there has still been a snare that communities of color have been caught in…the conspiracy of silence.  The original “don’t ask don’t tell policy” that has contributed to the untimely deaths of so many of our fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters.

    This conspiracy of silence has prevented these communities from unifying, strategizing and mobilizing against a nondiscremanating enemy that feeds upon the fear, ignorance and sin of all people.   For the most part there has been reluctance to openly communicate and educate concerning sex, drugs, money, HIV/AIDS and God.  There has been a dominating disguise of denial that has retarded many efforts and escalated this fight into a war.

    For decades now people have been suffering and dying because we have been perfecting phoniness in an era where the truth in love is one of our most effective weapons.  So many children are engaged heterosexually, homosexually or bisexually because they have been misinformed or uninformed about what sex really is.  If they are confused about that, then know that they don’t have a clue about the responsibilities that go with such actions.  The truth in love about sex, drugs, money, HIV/AIDS and God is so desperately needed.  If we are going to be effective in our prayers and other efforts in this war against the ignorance of HIV/AIDS, we have to stop perfecting phoniness and start perfecting and confirming our love in spirit and in truth.

    No longer should we separate ourselves from “Ray Ray” and “Pookie” because they contracted this virus in the penal system.  No longer should we be ashamed that Jose and Maria died of AIDS.  We don’t have to pretend any longer that it was cancer or some other sickness that took the lives of so many of our loved ones.  We can no longer afford to pass down the traditions of mama ‘em’ just to save face.

    People at all levels (church, home, school, streets and government) have contributed to this deadly conspiracy of silence.  Now, it is going to take people at all levels to break the silence.  There is room for growth and improvement at every level, but let us focus on two of the most powerful and influential levels, the home and the church.

    When the silence is broken at these two levels first, then the other levels are effected.  For far too long, parents and pastors have run away from dealing with the truth in love concerning sex, drugs, money, HIV/AIDS and God.  Too many times people have been ostracized and neglected because of unplanned pregnancies, drug dependency, poverty and especially HIV/AIDS.  Does the Bible not tell us that love covers a multitude of sin? (Proverbs 10:12/1 Peter 4:8).  I’m not advocating hiding sin because he that covers his sin will not prosper (Proverbs 28:13), but I am talking about loving the same way God loves each of us in spite of sin.  Our churches and homes should be a rehabilitation center for sick souls stricken by sinful acts; because sin is what really puts people at risk for HIV/AIDS.

    Every one in our society is affected if not infected by this virus; it has changed the way that we live and relate.  Let us come together and break this silence by doing what we are supposed to do to help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.

    For more information, contact The Project Hope Foundation at 214-538-7629.

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