Saturday, October 6, 2018

On The Stigma And Changing Trends For HIV Positive Members Of The Jewish Community

By Edward Lee

Physical illnesses are terrible to have and experience by themselves. All the more, though, when compounded by ostracism and social stigma at the time when one needs a solid support system the most. This is a common experience among HIV Jewish community NYC.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, is the viral strain that leads to AIDS in its final stages. This can be transmitted through contact with the body fluids of an infected person. There is also a perinatal or congenital transmission passed from a mother to her child during pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding.

The lay persons stigmatization of this disease is evident. After all, AIDS is commonly dismissed by the hoi polloi as something thats offensively called gay cancer. You can imagine how overwhelming this toxic mentality steps up when we turn the perspective on another channel, that is, on religion.

An unfortunately popular stereotype of this disease is that its something that the LGBTQ community primarily contends with. Its taking the conversation on another level, but this community is not acknowledged and approved in most religions. That is not to disregard the subset that sympathizes with the group, but nevertheless, conservatives still tout their righteousness and insist that AIDS is a punishment accorded to sinful actions.

That view purports and oversimplifies the ways in which the virus can be transmitted. It doesnt take into account the people that acquired it congenitally or unknowingly. This says much about the general state of awareness of the general public regarding this illness. With the advent of effective drug treatments, AIDS has changed from a deadly disease to a chronic, though manageable condition. The vast majority of its sufferers, though, remain as silent as ever.

The Torah, Judaisms holy book, teaches that the person is created in the image of their God and is inherently worth of dignity just by that criterion. Conversely, however, people who are living with this disease experience a loss of self worth and esteem because of this tenet. There is no central authority on HIV groups or awareness in Jewish communities that is accepted the majority of Jews. Consequently, discrimination abounds.

To fill the gaping hole left by their religion, certain individuals formed the first gay synagogues in the 1970s, where they can address the problems unique to their community. Since they have a history of terrible losses to the disease, they therefore have a substantial interest in ending the epidemic. An NYC based synagogue even recently completed a leadership training about HIV prevention and safety. The program raises awareness about the risk, prevention, treatment, and stigma of AIDS.

A certain creed in Judaism winds on about the virtue of protecting the vulnerable and defenseless in society. Groups that answer this calling spreads consciousness on the true facts about HIV. There are even religious groups that went out on a limb and integrated into their prayer books themes related to AIDS, imploring healing and faith for its sufferers and love and strength to those who care for them.

A certain group invested in this issue introduced a slogan stating Silence is to Death, Action is to Life. This tagline sums up the need to speak up and break the taboos surrounding AIDS. Our decision to do so will ultimately save lives.

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