The following is a actual letter I sent to a close Christian friend in 1999, immediately after I was diagnosed with HIV. Since then the HIV has progressed on into AIDS. I hesitated going public with this now, not wanting to throw fuel on the fire of those who would cruelly abuse this information against me in a vain attempt to discredit what I say and write on many controversial topics, narrowly focusing on this imperfect messenger rather than concentrating on my God-given biblical message.
However, I trust that the many principles involved here - the process of conversion, love and forgiveness, faith and patience, how perfection is our goal and destiny, how deadly serious sin is, making the most of our experiences, the amazing grace of God, etc., can benefit others who are able to glean something positive from such life experiences to bless their own lives and others and glorify God.
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July 2, 1999
My Christian friend Jen, emailed me when she found out about Tony being diagnosed with HIV. She was sorry to hear about it and said, "I really hope this may be some sort of wake up call for you. You're too smart to do some of the stuff you do, and you have a lot of friends who worry about you..."
I've talked with Jen a lot and she knows that I've been far from a disciplined Christian when it comes to sex outside of marriage. She's a "born-again virgin," to her credit, vowing never to have sex again until marriage — so help her God!
It turned put the wake up call is too late for me, in one sense. After finding out that Tony had the dreaded disease, I thought it's more likely I would have it since I've been more "risky" than him (he and I are only friends), so I went and got tested to play it safe (pun intended). Well, I was devastated yesterday morning to have the nice and pretty lady tell me that she "didn't have good news."
I've been diagnosed with HIV by the Eliza test and it's been backed up/confirmed by the European blot test. My first thought was where is the highest building to jump off of, as tears filled my eyes, and then I was in that dream state where this can't be happening, this is all unreal, I'm watching a movie, how will I tell mom and Kim and Lisa and everybody, why did I have to be so stupid? Why couldn't/didn't I stop sinning and live? As Cher sings, "If I could turn back time." But the woman tried to comfort me, saying that whereas most people used to die within two years, now many are living up to 10 years without any symptoms. I also don't have any symptoms now.
She gave me all the information and numbers and places like David's House and MCO [Medical College of Ohio] to help out people like me with no insurance (and now I'll never be able to get any), all the information that I never wanted to hear or have to receive (probably like you now, sorry)....
I went and told mom in person, as Bob suggested, and she told Kim who cried with me on the phone, and they're going to tell Lisa. Of course, I could live a "normal" life and outlive everybody, one never knows. All I know is I prayed to God years ago, in my beloved Israel, that I wanted to be in His Kingdom no matter what — even if it took AIDS to help me get and stay straight. Well, it looks like God might let my body be destroyed to save my soul; or He'll let me have it, if He doesn't heal me (and He could), to keep me celibate (since He knows I won't go out and give it to others like some wicked people I know).
Mom said, "God hasn't let you live this long to let you die now." I just hate the selfishness of sin, how I've now hurt and affected my family, and then there's the stigma that a struggling Christian writer would have AIDS! But God promises everything works together for good, for those of us who are called according to His wonderful purpose.
This is only my second day of "living with AIDS" and I'm already sick and tired of thinking and/or worrying about it. Of course I had another test done right then and there just in case, however unlikely, that they switched my blood tube with someone else's. Anyway, life goes on.
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.