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- 1 Ministering to people with AIDS
Ministering to people with AIDS
What is AIDS?
- "Aids is not just a terrible disease - it threatens the survival of mankind."</noinclude>
- "The HIV virus represents one of the greatest threats to health we have seen in recent times."</noinclude>
- AIDS is a viral disease spread by blood contact and sexual activity. The virus is called Human Immunosuppression Virus (HIV). If you catch the virus you are said to be HIV+ve. It is believed that in time most, if not all people who are HIV+ve, will go on to get AIDS. The clinical picture of AIDS is extremely varied, as the patient's immunity to infections is compromised, leading to a variety of illnesses. Eventually the patient dies with an infection as they have no resistance to fight it.
- Who gets AIDS?
- Drug users who share needles.
- Homosexuals who are promiscuous.
- The sexually promiscuous.
- Haemophiliacs (up to 4 years ago).
- Babies born to mothers with HIV+ve.
- Blood recipients, especially in the third world.
- Carers of victims (rare).
- The virus is only spread by blood and body fluids. In this respect it is different from viruses such as the Flu virus, which can be caught by being in the same room as a sufferer. The HIV virus spreads from the blood, semen, sputum, faeces or vomit of a sufferer into an open wound. This means that simple precautions can prevent its spread.
- Prevention is important as there is no cure for the disease, and it is likely that most people who catch the virus will die within the next ten years.
What is the Size of the Problem?
- In the USA in 1989 there were probably 2 million people infected with the HIV virus. So far about 70% have gone on to develop AIDS, of whom all have died so far. In the UK we know of 1200 deaths by 1989, plus an equal number of "unexplained" deaths, probably due to AIDS.
- In Africa it is estimated that 5 million now carry the virus and some 50,000 have already died.
Implications for YWAM
Bases and Schools
Most bases and schools are likely to have staff or students who are HIV+ve. We must assume from now on that we will have people who, because of the lifestyle that they've come from, will be carrying the AIDS virus. (See Appendix 1a for practical procedures to ensure that the virus is not passed on.)
Outreaches, Especially to the Third World
The risk of catching the AIDS virus is much greater in third world countries, especially through procedures needed when someone becomes ill and requires blood samples taken or injections given. An AIDS pack should be taken by each outreach team (See school leader\outreach leader).
- The assumption should be made that any team ministering to the public will come across HIV+ve people, especially in street and coffee bar work.
- The main method of spread of the virus is through sexual intercourse, especially promiscuous sex with numerous partners. Homosexuals have initially been most at risk, with drug abusers second, and people needing blood transfusions where blood is not checked third.
- Any outreach to these groups of people should be undertaken by people who have received training. Amateur dabbling will harm people and prevent other YWAMers from being given the opportunity to minister.
- Counselling AIDS sufferers is a delicate and difficult topic. Such issues as "Should I get the test?", "Can I marry if I'm HIV+ve?", etc needs to be dealt with sensitively. If you need help, please contact Richard Lahey-James, Dr Mike Shelond or the National Administration Office.
Practical Hints on How to Ensure the HIV Virus is Not Passed on
Any team or base ministering to people involved in, or coming out of, sexual promiscuity or drug abuse will come into contact with people who have the HIV virus. Thus each base or large team will probably already have people who are infected. Some will have had the blood test and know they are positive; others who have not had the blood test will not know that they are a risk. To avoid discrimination, treat everyone coming into schools and bases as if they carry the virus by observing the following suggestions:
- There is a minute risk of the HIV virus entering the body of an uninfected person, through cuts or open wounds, and through swallowing infected fluids. If you have a cut or an open wound, cover it with a waterproof dressing.
- Obviously it must be stressed that there must be no sexual promiscuity, either heterosexual or homosexual.
- The AIDS virus is not passed by ordinary everyday activities. It is safe to hug, kiss, share crockery, towels and toilets.
- It is best not to share razors or toothbrushes, as blood may possibly be left on these items.
- The virus is killed by a hot wash in a washing machine (71 degrees centigrade) for three minutes.
- Soap and hot water will kill the virus, but it is best to use bleach (Domestic bleach diluted 1 to 10), and use good rubber gloves (without holes in them!).
- Body fluids such as spilt blood, diarrhoea, vomit or pus, can spread the virus. Clear up all spillages with gloves and bleach.
- There is no way of knowing if a person has the virus by looking at them, so always take precautions.
- Note: Obviously the Lord may call us to minister where precautions cannot be taken - this isn't the law. But take sensible precautions to minimise the small risk to which carers may be exposed.
AIDS Prevention Kits
- All teams must take an emergency medical pack to areas of health risk and where there is a lack of good health care.
- Further information on AIDS kits and purchases can be obtained from S.A.F.A. Limited as follows:
59 Hill Street
Liverpool L8 5SA
Tel: 0151 708 0397
- Avoidance of AIDS kit travellers pack - code 720
- Cost: approx #43.33 (inc VAT + p&p)
- Avoidance of AIDS emergency kit (up Country Kit) - code 700
- Cost: approx #178.53 (inc VAT + p&p)
- First aid kit AIDS and Hepatitis B prevention kit - code 690
- Cost: approx #14.77 (inc VAT + p&p)
- www.talcuk.org This website has helpful books and DVDs which can be purchased here.