HIV and AIDS do not affect only individuals. They affect families and friends and even communities. They affect each one of us directly or indirectly.
Sometimes people become very negative when they hear about the realities of HIV and AIDS - the rejection, stigma and suffering associated with the illness is very real. But although it is a reality that cannot be ignored, the challenge is to see the other side of this disease; and there is another side. If we start to care for the people infected and affected by HIV and AIDS, and if we can help people to change their attitudes towards people living with HIV and AIDS or PLWHA, the other side will become clear.
With the prevalence of HIV, however, there is a possibility that somebody you love might tell you that he or she is HIV positive. It might even have been a reality to you. What would you say? How would you feel? What is the first thing that you would ask this person - "Where did you get it? From whom?"
When the person we love dearly tells us that he is HIV positive, we are shocked, angry, disappointed and ask "Where did you get this?" The reaction is always negative. But when WE test positive, we only want encouragement and support.
This is what often happens in the real world. That is why it is so difficult for HIV positive people to come out and share their status.
As human beings, we all have a need to be valued and accepted for who we are. During difficult times in our lives, this need becomes even more prominent. It is also impossible to contend with difficult situations without the support and encouragement of people close to us believing in our abilities and affirming our value.
Unfortunately, during good times we tend to become very self-sufficient and self-righteous. We find it much easier to judge and condemn a person with HIV or AIDS than to reach out to him with understanding and acceptance. We'd like to believe that such a person is reaping the fruit of their behavior and that something like that would never happen to us because we know how to behave. This might indeed be true and maybe you or I will never contract HIV. The fact is that we can not foretell the future. We don't know what calamity awaits us round the next corner, when we desperately in need of other's acceptance and compassion.
Most people support the principle: "Do to others what you want them to do to you." Unless we put ourselves in the shoes of another person, it's very difficult to understand what our needs would be in a similar situation. This is not something we automatically do. It requires a conscious decision to postpone judgment and instead try to understand the world of the other person. Only then will we know what we would have liked others to do to us in a similar situation. Choosing to value another person as a special God-created being adds value and worth to your life. AIDS is but one opportunity to put this into practice.
Source: Channels of Hope workshop manual.