Most of us think AIDS happens to other people. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AIDS has been diagnosed in approximately a half-million people since 1985, with no end in sight. The odds are good that someone you know--maybe even someone in your family--will be struck by the deadly virus. Ask Jimmy Allen.
As a respected pastor and a former president of the 16 million-member Southern Baptist Convention, Allen never thought twice about AIDS. But a late-night call from his son Scott, a pastor in Colorado, brought Allen's world to a devastating halt. A tainted blood supply had infected Scott's wife, Lydia, with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which she had passed on to their two children, Matthew and Bryan. Soon after Bryan's death in 1986, Allen was confronted with the news that his homosexual son, Skip, had also tested positive for HIV.
Since then, Lydia and, recently, Matthew have also died from AIDS. Despite this overwhelming tragedy, Allen and his wife, Wanda, have found courage and strength through their faith. In his book "Burden of a Secret: A Story of Truth and Mercy in the Face of AIDS" (Moorings), Allen chronicles his family's pilgrimage from loss to healing.
HOW MUCH DID YOU KNOW ABOUT AIDS WHEN YOU FIRST HEARD THE NEWS FROM SCOTT?
Back then people hardly knew what to call the virus. For a while, researchers had referred to it as grid, for Gay Related Immune Deficiency. But by 1985, the medical world was beginning to see that it was not a disease limited to homosexuals. Still, it was an absolute shock to hear the news.
WHAT KIND OF REACTIONS DID YOUR FAMILY FACE?
Rejection. And from people from whom we had come to expect the most. Many were unable to respond positively to us. For ...1