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AIDS – and the deep realism of Spirit

A Christian Science perspective.

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Since 1981, at least 25 million people have died of AIDS, and 11.6 AIDS orphans in Africa alone have been left as a legacy of this devastating epidemic. Although there has been a slight decline in deaths in recent years, 33 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, according to UNAIDS/WHO. It's believed that many of these people will eventually die of the disease, which continues to claim lives at a rate of two million a year. At this point, there is no medical cure, although some progress has been made.

Those numbers may seem to be merely statistics unless you know someone with the disease, but the economic effects, particularly in parts of Africa, are enormous. Women tend to be the ones who raise food for the family. If a woman dies, she leaves behind her babies as well as empty fields, which are not ready for harvest. Hunger and desperation may drive her daughter to prostitution in order to survive, and thus become a potential victim. Other parts of society are also affected, such as the loss of young, well-educated professionals, whose skills are especially vital in developing economies.

Those who have the disease have been persecuted because of ignorance and fear, and often AIDS has been treated as a divine judgment on people's lifestyles. Its name describes its effect: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. The individual's natural defenses against disease are wiped out, thus making him or her vulnerable to other sicknesses.

While AIDS may seem to render one vulnerable to the influence of any disease, there is a power that can renew one's spiritual strength and open the way to progress in dealing with this sickness. It is the Christ, the spiritual impetus of Jesus' healing mission. It enabled him to perceive more clearly than any other person Love's healing and restorative power for all who desired to be free. Jesus' conviction of God's power remained unshaken even in the face of death.

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