Lighting a candle for those with AIDS

December 2, 2010 at 2:48 am

On World AIDS Day, the Southwest Louisiana AIDS Council united with the United Methodist Conference to honor those who have died of AIDS and to celebrate victories in medicine and awareness.

Those who attended the Wednesday event lit candles for deceased loved ones, and Sherry Jones Miller of Sulphur talked about her brother, Jason Wilson, who died at age 33.

Miller said she had been close to her brother, who was 14 years younger than her.

“This helped when we lost our mom to lung cancer,” Miller said. At that time, she was 23 and Jason was 9.

Miller first noticed symptoms in her brother and encouraged him to get tested. The mother of three said her brother was always the fun uncle, and he loved playing with her children.

This had some drawbacks, Miller said.

“I got used to some parents not letting their children come play at my house or asking what kind of mother would let their children be around someone with HIV,” Miller said. “I had to accept that some people chose not be educated about the disease.”

Marlon Borque spoke about living with HIV for the past 23 years.

Borque said losing his mother to liver and lung cancer and then being diagnosed with liver disease led to a reckless lifestyle. During that time, he contracted HIV.

“That diagnosis was a turning point in my life. I had a choice — to maintain my crazy habits or make a change,” he said.

Borque said his job as a social worker was his assignment from God and that he should share his message of hope with others.

“Choice is a very important word to me. You choose how you react to things, and I hope that I can give a message of hope,” he said.

The Rev. Juan Huertas of Squyres United Methodist Church in Ragley spoke about the church’s role in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“Our response too many times is closed doors, good-intentioned prayers, and we hope people get well some other way, and that’s not what Jesus called us to do,” he said.

Huertas said he hopes other churches will be more open to allowing clinics and community organizations to speak to their congregations.

“Holiness is not just pious practice, it’s being in active service of the hurt and lost,” he said.

As of Sept. 31, Region 5 — Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron and Jeff Davis parishes — had 51 new cases of HIV and 42 new cases of AIDS, according to the state Office of Public Health.

Of the new HIV cases, 39 are male and 12 are female. Of the 42 newly diagnosed with AIDS, 29 are male and 13 are female. There are 962 people living with HIV or AIDS in the region, according to the OPH.

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