Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome-commonly known as AIDS-has affected the entire globe, but is nowhere more devastating in its effect than on the continent of Africa. Callisto Madavo, vice president of the World Bank African region, recently said: "Too much of Africa will enter the 21st Century watching the gains of the 20th evaporate." Madavo's comments flowed from the fact that AIDS is wiping out economic achievements of the past century in large parts of Africa. This protracted and deadly sickness has fractured families, weakened the workforce and caused a relentless ritual of funerals. Some African morgues no longer close due to the demand for their services.
Listen! More than 22 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are living with the HIV virus-that's one person in 12! In the worst affected regions of eastern and southern Africa, HIV infection has risen to a third or more of the adult population. Africa has 10 percent of the earth's population-and approximately 70 percent of the world's infected people. Increasingly, the disease is striking the young who are in the prime of their productive lives. Businesses are now experiencing a serious loss of worker productivity, affecting the national economies.
South Africa had no reported HIV positive blood specimens in 1989. Two years later 6 percent of its population carried the HIV virus. By 1998 more than 22 percent were HIV positive! "This is nothing short of a catastrophe," says Salim Abdul Karim, head of the AIDS Research Program in South Africa. "We know of no disease that has exploded like this in humankind. The epidemic has, however, not reached its maximum destructive levels in South Africa."
This is not just an African problem. The problem is worldwide. In India, some 4 million people are infected with AIDS. In Russia, the incidence of HIV has doubled in the past two years. In the Caribbean and much of Latin America, AIDS statistics are rising to frightening levels.
What can the nation's leaders do in response to this crisis?
Thabo Mbeki, the Prime Minister of South Africa, made a television appeal last year "urging couples in his country to practice safer sex." Some urge a crash program to develop a vaccine. Others want to provide drug addicts with clean needles. Still others wish to train women to use barrier contraception to guard against male AIDS carriers.
These proposed steps will not solve this problem!
So-called safe sex, vaccine, clean needles and barrier contraceptives are not the solution to this problem. It is a problem directly related to people's standard of morality!
The problem lies in the hearts of men and women and the "pull of the flesh" as described by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:19: "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness…"
There is GOOD NEWS, my friends. There is a solution!
The solution was given to us by God two thousands of years ago, and it is found in the in the pages of the Bible.
In Colossians 3:5-8, Paul instructs the followers of Christ to, "put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry...Because of these things, the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.
In Ephesians 5:3-7 premarital and extramarital sexual activity is condemned: "But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them."
The AIDS and other sexually transmissible diseases are not stoppable in a world which refuses to obey God's command NOT to commit sex acts outside of heterosexual marriage. A world unwilling to receive help through God's Holy Spirit to fight against the causes of Sexually Transmissible Diseases-adultery, pre-marital sex and homosexuality-must bear the fruit of their sin.
However, YOU can stop the AIDS epidemic from infecting YOU-by obeying the Biblical injunction to live virtuously.
There is a World coming when every man will have his own wife. The way of the world will no longer be in fornication, adultery and homosexuality. Then AIDS and all SDIs will cease from the face of the earth. Meanwhile, it's up to each of us to live in obedience to God's laws and precepts, in order to avoid this fast spreading scourge of AIDS-and the many other sexually transmitted diseases.
This is Carl McNair with commentary for the Living Church of God.