By Pastor Bill Mugford
As mentioned in our introduction, “Getting to Zero!” is primarily being used to express a heart-felt goal that there are NO NEW HIV INFECTIONS, NO NEW HIV&AIDS-RELATED DEATHS and NO STIGMA and DISCRIMINATION against people living with HIV&AIDS by the year 2015.
For this goal, the Church offers a moral imperative: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies,” I Corinthians 6:19–20 (NIV). In accordance with the imperative, the church encourages a real solution: abstinence.
Abstaining from all high-risk behaviors linked to the spread of HIV&AIDS practically accomplishes the goal of “Getting to Zero!” and it’s all about STOP:
S: Save Sex for Marriage. Abstinence before marriage, while a difficult idea that goes against culture, is a viable and proven method of stopping HIV transmission.
T: Teach Men and Boys to Respect Women and Children. By teaching men and boys to view women and children as respected equals created in the image of God, the church is working to reduce gender violence, sexual abuse, and the spread of HIV.
O: Offer Treatment through Churches. The church offers more than clean needles and condoms, it offers freedom from addiction and care for the addict.
P: Partner with One Person for Life. When two HIV negative people partner together faithfully in marriage for life, the risk of sexual transmission of HIV is virtually non-existent.
There is a hopeful future. “Getting to Zero!” is an achievable goal! Though there is neither vaccination nor cure, we can encourage behavior that STOPs infections and a way of living with HIV&AIDS that effectively provides a “functional cure!”
At the end of this series, pray, “Father. Help me honor you with my body, treating it as a temple of the Holy Spirit and encouraging others, whether living with HIV&AIDS or not, to do the same. And help me further get involved to love and serve anyone living with HIV&AIDS and their families and friends as you guide. Amen.”