What Is AIDS? AIDS (an acronym for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a deficiency in the immune system caused by HIV (an acronym for Human Immuno-deficiency Virus). Because of this deficiency there is inadequate resistance to various diseases which then cause sickness and death.
AIDS suddenly appeared about 25 years ago and quickly spread around the world. Today there are about 33 million cases of AIDS worldwide.1 But where did HIV come from? Did God suddenly create it or has it always been around? And if so, why didn’t it erupt as an epidemic until relatively recently?
Origin Of HIV
We can say that the Lord created it, because He has created everything: “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made” (Jn. 1:3 NIV). And the “all things” includes viruses and microorganisms. Scripture does not tell us why He created them, but some of them are absolutely necessary for our health. For example, we need germs in our bowels for their proper functioning; and much of the vitamin K we need for blood clotting is produced by intestinal germs. Scripture does not say that He created germs to cause sickness and death!
We should note that the Lord rebuked the pharisaical attitude of those who automatically consider calamities to be punishment for sin. He said, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way … or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them – do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no!” (Lk. 13:1-5).
God protects His creatures from disease! He gave mankind and animals their amazing immune systems to protect them from microorganism-caused diseases. If these immune systems worked “perfectly” we would never get sick. In fact, it is quite possible for people to be “carriers” of a load of disease-causing microorganisms and be symptom free. For example, ninety percent of the people infected with the tuberculosis-causing germ will never have tuberculosis!2 Could HIV then have been around for ages in carriers? Yes, but the carriers have not been human.
HIV apparently has been present in chimpanzees for thousands of years,3 and evidence has just been announced2,4 which confirms what has long been suspected, namely, that the virus came originally from chimpanzees living in Central Africa where AIDS got its start in humans.1,3 Most interestingly, HIV would never have gotten into humans and spread so rapidly if Old Testament regulations were heeded and New Testament sexual morals were practiced.
How Did HIV Enter Humans?
Viruses like HIV can easily mutate (change) into different strains, and they often do. When this happens, viruses that live in animals without infecting humans may produce strains that can cause human disease when they jump into people. Thus, “swine flu” resulted when a mutated virus jumped from pigs into people and produced a new “flu” against which the old vaccine was ineffective.
The evidence is that a mutated virus in chimpanzees jumped into humans at least three times.1,3 There is also a plausible mode of transmission. In Central Africa chimpanzees are hunted for food, and blood from the carcasses could easily have entered the hunters’ bodies through superficial wounds.1 The continued practice of hunting chimpanzees may possibly introduce new viral strains into the human population!
God’s Protection Plan
God gave Israel a variety of seemingly arbitrary food and health laws to protect them. Specifically, He commanded, “You must therefore make a distinction between clean and unclean … Do not defile yourself by any animal or bird … those which I have set apart as unclean for you” (Lev. 20:25). For example, a monkey was forbidden food and its carcass defiling (Lev. 11). Even touching a carcass made the person unclean (Lev. 5:2; 11:27). Therefore, a law-abiding Israelite would never dress a monkey for food and would never run the risk of coming into contact with blood from an infected animal.
Note that God’s so-called “arbitrary” laws also protected His people from other viruses, such as the Ebola virus. A few years ago this mysterious disease appeared. It caused death from massive hemorrhaging while physicians watched helplessly. It threatened to become a dangerous epidemic, but was stopped when it was recognized that the disease was caused by the Ebola virus. This virus was spread by contact with the bodies of the victims. A quarantine was established, and the spread of the virus was stopped. God protected His people from disease present in dead bodies by commanding, “Whoever touches the dead body of anyone will be unclean for seven days. He must purify himself with water” (Num. 19:11-12).
Why The Sudden Spread?
For years HIV did not spread. Travel was difficult, people stayed where they lived, and tribal customs regulated sexual contact – the primary mode of transmission. Then came roads, rails, and airplanes – and travel increased. People moved around, moved into cities where tribal influences were lost, and promiscuous sex became much easier.
In Africa AIDS is a heterosexual disease. However, because it was introduced into the United States by homosexuals, many perceive of it primarily as a homosexuals’ disease – but this is wrong. As people carrying the virus travel and engage in promiscuous homosexual and heterosexual sex, the disease is being spread rapidly around the world.
What Can We Do?
Not widely known is the fact that the greater the opportunity for transmission of an infectious agent, the greater its virulence (deadliness). Thus, today’s widespread sexual promiscuity is playing a big part in the deadliness of AIDS. As scientists explain in Scientific American: “Theory predicts that … safe sex will do more than save numerous individuals from HIV infection. If humanity’s behavior itself slows HIV transmission rates, strains that do not soon kill their hosts … then die with their hosts, denied the opportunity to spread.”4 In other words, if people were to heed the scriptural admonition to “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 6:18), not only would they avoid AIDS themselves but their “collective choices (would) change the very nature of HIV.”4 God is not responsible for the deadliness of HIV, we are!
Listen To God!
The more we learn about sanitation and disease, the better we appreciate the wisdom and love which God showed in the seemingly arbitrary regulations He gave to His people. They were told to “observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations” (Dt. 4:6). They were told they would have good health if they obeyed, and disease if they disobeyed (Ex. 15:26; Dt. 28:58-61).
The principles underlying His commandments are as valid today as they ever were. The origin and spread of AIDS is dramatic proof!
1. Newsweek (Feb. 8, ’99), p. 53.
2. Chemistry & Engineering News (May 17, ’99), p. 52.
3. Scientific American (Apr. ’99), p. 26.
4. Scientific American (Nov. ’99), p. 90.
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA.