Byline: James Fuller Daily Herald Staff Writer
Christian students from as far as California and New York flocked to Wheaton College for a lesson on the worldwide AIDS crisis, particularly how it's ravaging parts of Africa.
They sought ethical answers to treatment issues, bonded with a Grammy Award-winning band and staggered through the horror of the statistics and hope of medicine.
The three-day summit ran through Saturday and was the first of its kind for the college.
It opened with a debate on the legal and moral constraints of doctor-patient confidentiality versus the moral duty of Christians.
Students mulled over situations a medical practitioner might encounter.
One situation involved a Christian doctor with a patient worried about HIV after an encounter with a prostitute. The patient did not want the doctor to notify the patient's wife for fear she would leave him.
Some students argued God's law supersedes man's law, so the doctor should tell the wife despite it being a violation of his patient's privacy. Other students said the doctor should not force his morality into the situation, especially with the possibility that he could lose his job and not be able to provide care for others.
When a vote at the end of the discussion was taken, the majority favored the doctor not telling the wife. Students were then told the situation actually happened in Europe and resulted in a change in law allowing doctors to inform sex partners of infected patients.
The summit took a lighter turn later when attendees sat down with the Christian rock band Jars of Clay. The band described its Blood: Water Mission project in Africa. Its focus is to find clean blood and water solutions for the AIDS-stricken continent, as water-borne illnesses often kill those who contract the virus.
Lead singer Dan Haseltine said the band formed its not-for- profit entity after a trip to Africa and discovered that churches there just didn't understand the AIDS crisis, despite missionary work from North American churches.
"We live in a culture today where churches are very self- centered," he said. "They are spending big money on worship records and services, and they are losing their ability to communicate authentically. It's just a matter of waking them up."
The band emphasized how differently AIDS is viewed in Africa than in the United States. A lecture following the band backed that up with statistics that had students shaking their heads in frustration. …