Print this page    •   Back to Web version of article

For What Ails the Soul

By Father Drew A. Kovach, M.D., M.Div., A.B.F.M., A.A.H.I.V.S.

January/February 2012

Submit your questions to

Due to space limitations, not all submitted questions can be answered in this column. For more information about AAHIVM, call 202-659-0699 or visit

Q: I recently found out that I'm HIV-positive. So far I haven't told anyone except my best friend and just thinking of people finding out I'm gay and have HIV makes me want to crawl into a cave! I was raised in a religious family and my faith community, which is very important to me, is very conservative.

Over the years, I've heard them condemn homosexuals and theorize that AIDS is God's punishment for being gay. Now is a time when I need my faith and I feel like that, as well as my health, has been taken from me and I'm really depressed about it all. I have a friend who's some sort of pagan and he talks about how important the mind/body/spirit connection is to your health and well-being -- I believe that may be true, but I just can't abandon what I've always believed in for something that's not true for me. I've prayed and prayed and haven't gotten any clarity. What do you think? How important is my faith to my health?

A: Faith and a solid spiritual foundation is essential in living well with HIV. HIV affects the mind, the body, and the spirit and all must be in balance to be whole and well. Religion is a man-made construct to try to understand God. God loves all of us, no matter that we are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, or if we have HIV! Disease is never a punishment from God. In the Christian belief, Jesus turned no one away and healed all who came to him. He wants us to be well, whole, and holy. Religion is simply a vehicle to things spiritual. No more, no less. As a physician and a priest and as a gay man taking care of HIV patients now for over 30 years, I know how conflicted one can be about such matters of sexual preference and what religion has to say about such things. God the Creator is bigger than religion. Again, let it be clear, God loves us just the way we are and for who we are.

Search for an HIV Specialist™

Finding an HIV Specialist™ is easy with AAHIVM's Referral Link at Enter your ZIP code on the home page, and click on the "Go" button for a list of HIV Specialists™ near you.

The Reverend Father Drew A. Kovach, M.D., M.Div., A.B.F.M., A.A.H.I.V.S., is an ordained Episcopal/Orthodox priest, as well as a board certified Family Medicine Physician, an HIV/AIDS Specialist, and Director of HIV Services at Kaiser Permanente Hawaii.

This article was provided by Positively Aware. It is a part of the publication Positively Aware. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

General Disclaimer: is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, consult your health care provider.