AIDS / Red Ribbon Cross

Let's hope and pray that we don't have to bear this cross much longer.

"Some of them will be only too willing to condemn me to that other sort of death; a living death. Shunned and ignored."

AIDS / Red Ribbon Cross

AIDS Red Ribbon Cross

An adorned cross is any cross where an additional message is emphasized by the additional feature. Wrap a coloured ribbon around the cross, and you have a neat way of Christianizing your cause. This page looks at why the Red Ribbon is used to make the AIDS Cross. It is unique amongst the adorned crosses; where most glorify the feature, the AIDS Cross does not.

But first, let's look at another reason for putting a red ribbon on the cross:

The colour red is used to symbolize blood. The colour is also used by several heart disease awareness groups, and of course red roses say 'I love you'. These three entities: blood, heart, love, are appropriate for adorning a cross. They symbolise how Christ showed love by shedding his blood on the cross two thousand years ago.

Currently, the most popular interpretation for the red ribbon is to focus attention on HIV and AIDS . Ignorance, stigma and discrimination, whether actual or feared, remain perhaps the most difficult obstacles for the prevention of HIV. The red ribbon has become the internationally recognised symbol for solidarity and tolerance for those often discriminated against. It is a reminder of the constant need to keep up the fight against AIDS.

In the 80s and 90s, some Christians had the naivety of biblical times, when folk shunned lepers and victims of the plague. They felt that HIV/AIDS was God's punishment for drug users and gay people. (See also Illness Phobia)

Ignorance breeds fear. Fear is a powerful motivator but a terrible adviser. We now know that HIV does not discriminate and the majority of HIV+ people worldwide are heterosexual and are not drug abusers.

When Christians display the AIDS Cross, often as a lapel pin, they are showing evidence of their prayer, laying the problem at the cross saying "We have a problem; here it is." They are saying to the world: "We are tackling the problem. We have prayed. We are using the cross to spread awareness about AIDS. The cross is our most sacred symbol, yet we are using it for this campaign."

The task is awesome, yet possible, if a sufficient number of people actively join the cause.

According to the UN and the WHO, around 34 million people currently live with HIV/AIDS, 3.5 million of whom are children. 

See also the similar Robed Cross

The Red Ribbon itself is folded into a cross, but this is incidental to many campaign ribbons.

Hence the colour on the emblem of The Red Cross Society.

HIV: Human Immunodeficiency Virus. AIDS: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome; the collection of symptoms, diseases and infections associated with an acquired deficiency of the immune system. Whilst HIV is virtually universally acknowledged as the underlying cause of AIDS, not all HIV+ individuals have AIDS, as the HIV virus can remain in a latent state for many years.

That much is known.

What is not known, however, is the knock-on effect HIV might have on the rest of humankind. Olivia Judson, a research fellow in biology at Imperial College London, suggests HIV might result in new diseases in the future - even a contagious type of cancer:

"Owing to the failure to treat HIV in many parts of the world, large numbers of people have compromised immune systems. That is the sort of environment that could, perhaps, allow a transmissible cancer to evolve. Initially, it would circulate only among those who are immuno-compromised. But it might evolve to infect healthy people too. It's an alarming thought - though happily, a thought is all it is. For now."

AIDS is not a problem that will go away if ignored; quite the opposite.

Spread the word. The problem needs all the attention it can get.


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