I'd never faced this decision before... I didn't know what to do. When I was first diagnosed with the HIV virus, I read innumerable articles on it and later suffered from an information overload and depressing confusion. One article would speak in favor of taking the highly toxic HIV/AIDS medicines, and then I'd read another one that spoke against it with just as convincing of an argument.
As a Church of God member, I knew we encourage members to have faith in God and teach doctors have their place but that it is very limited. As I told my doctor: “Miracles have no side effects and are for free.” We're all familiar with the poor lady in the scriptures who spent all she had on doctors and wasn't any better for it and then Jesus mercifully healed her.
I cried out to God: “I don't know what to do. What should I do? I know you can heal me, but what am I supposed to do for myself?” And shortly thereafter called my mother, who simply said: “You could always try the medicines and if you don't like them, you can always stop taking them.” How logical!
I immediately began my HIV drug therapy, my AIDS ”cocktail.” I know some who have taken meds with few side effects but I could hardly walk when I first started -- it was worse than being a staggering drunk -- and the nightmares were out of this world...when you finally fell asleep. Later I regained my balance but the nightmares, night sweats and irritability continued. I would be drenched like I had just gotten out of the shower and I would have some tingling in my arms and legs. Regardless, I strictly adhered to the program for over a year and then said enough was enough. I admit it reduced the HIV viral load to ”undetectable” (although it's still lurking).
I decided I wanted quality over quantity of life. I would rather feel good for less years than have more years in misery. At least that sounded good. Again, I saw stories on television about others who praised the meds and were near death and bounced back, but one thing is sure: everybody is an individual and everybody must make up their own mind about whether or not to take medicines.
My infectious disease doctor wanted me on the meds and encouraged me to try another regimen. So I tried nine pills a day of this with two a day of that and endured for several weeks and then said I would rather be dead and stopped again. Later I went on other drugs, and took Bactrim to fight off infections and although I didn't have any serious side effects, I just didn't feel right. I actually felt so much better off the drugs!
So I created my own program: on drugs for 6-8 weeks to knock my viral load down (because I start to get scared as it escalates) and then go off them. I discovered it's called “Systematic Treatment Interruption” which some studies suggested was good but now the consensus appears to be it's bad, although I'm skeptical about the lucrative drug industry, a view that has been reinforced by Dr. Peter Duesberg.
I've seen Scriptures where God promises to forgive all your sins and heal all your diseases (Ps. 103:3), and wonder why God hasn't removed this self-inflicted dreaded disease from me since I have confessed and forsaken my sins (Jer. 30:15, 17). (Some have diseases through no fault of their own). I also know AIDS has helped me to stay celibate, as the Bible prescribes for all singles, and that God says, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor. 12:9).
I've had miraculous answers to prayer; I'm confident God can heal:
“I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the LORD. The LORD has chastened me sore, but He has not given me over to death” (Psalm 118:17-18).
Thy will be done.
David Ben-Ariel is a Christian-Zionist writer and author of Beyond Babylon: Europe's Rise and Fall. With a focus on the Middle East and Jerusalem, his analytical articles help others improve their understanding of that troubled region. Check out the Beyond Babylon blog.