As many people know today is World AID’s Day. So the question I want to ask each of you today is “What is your status?” Are you positive or are you negative? I don’t want to discount the experiences of those who are living with this virus. I know that living with this virus affects every aspect of your life, just as much as being whatever racial or ethnic identity you are, or sexual orientation you are, or what class you are, or what sex you are, or what gender you are. I know it affects your life in ways that those of us who have a medical diagnosis of HIV- may not understand.
But what I want to know is this, what is your status when it comes to HIV/AIDS? Are you positive or are you negative? Because what the doctors say you are, is not necessarily your status. Because in an important sense we are all HIV+. See HIV affects everyone, whether we have a medical diagnosis of it or not. You cannot live in this world today and not be impacted, affected, influenced, or touched in some way by the existence of this virus. In some respects, we are all HIV+. If we have compassion for those in the world who are living with HIV/AIDS, then we are HIV+.
It is important for us to radiate love and positive energy to all. The people living with HIV/AIDS around the world are our neighbors and are a part of the global neighborhood of which we are a part. There is more to our neighborhood then our physical surroundings. There are the mental, emotional, and psychological neighborhoods in which we live. Does SHAME share an apartment with you or is PRIDE your next-door neighbor? Does GUILT live down the street or does CONFIDENCE hang out in your kitchen? Is FEAR just around the corner or is SECURITY in the apartment above yours? See part of loving our neighbors and ourselves is not allowing anyone to live in emotional, mental, and psychological “neighborhoods” of shame, guilt, and fear, rather we should be creating neighborhoods of pride, confidence, and security. Loving our neighbors and ourselves involves more than our silence; it means we take on our own attitudes.
Because we cannot love our neighbors, if we cannot love ourselves. The people living with HIV around the world your neighbors, they are your brothers and sisters. They may be 1000’s of generations removed, but they are still our brothers and sisters.
Status is a powerful word. And if I am going to ask you what your status is, I ought to define it. See in the secular world status can mean your position or rank in relation to others. Status can also mean your ranking in a hierarchy of prestige. Status can also mean the condition of a person or thing in the eyes of the law. But in the eyes of the Divine, your status is determined by some basic questions. Do you love God? Do you love your neighbor as yourself? Do you love your brothers and sisters? Are you walking humbly with the Creator? Are you doing kindness? And are you doing justice? What is your status? I am HIV+. Are you?