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"Write a Letter to HIV" Campaign!

By Justin B. Terry-Smith

Justin B. Terry-Smith

Justin B. Terry-Smith

Hello, I'm Justin B. Terry-Smith. I was infected with HIV in 2005 and diagnosed in 2006. I've decided to write a letter expressing my feelings about HIV and I'm asking YOU to join me.

You can be HIV negative or positive; this letter is meant to encourage and empower. If you're infected or affected by HIV, I'm asking that you write a letter and then videotape yourself reading the letter aloud. It helps sometimes to get your feelings out, whether you've been recently diagnosed or have been living with HIV for a long period of time.

I'm asking everyone -- including my fellow bloggers here at TheBody.com and others that don't have a blog -- to join me in this campaign, "My Letter to HIV." Check out my letter and video for an example. If you don't want to make a video you don't have to; a simple letter will suffice. You can also send a picture of yourself. Entries will be posted in a series on this article page.

Send your letters and video links to mylettertohiv@gmail.com.

PLEASE JOIN ME IN EMPOWERING YOURSELVES IN THIS FIGHT AGAINST HIV/AIDS!




Valynn (Posted July 10, 2012)
I was led to believe that if I had a child surely my child would also have you. I also thought I would die before my child had a chance to grow up. ... However, the truth is I could have had a child. I could have a teenager right now. You stole that from me.
 

Bryan Collins (Posted July 10, 2012)
It should come as no surprise that I have been talking about you behind your back. It comes easy, because even though you do not know me, I know you very well.
Bryan Collins

Brant Miller (Posted July 10, 2012)
I remember some of the first times I talked about you with my parents when I was no more than 10 years old. They wanted me to learn three things; go to college, don't get a credit card until you're smart enough to have one, and always use a condom. (Granted, at the time, they thought I'd be getting someone pregnant, but now they know better.)
Brant Miller

Matthew Cope (Posted May 17, 2012)
It is a miracle I am still here. But. I AM STILL HERE. You have not won.
Matthew Cope

J. (Posted May 9, 2012)
In 1999 my mother found out you were killing her, and attempting to infect my unborn sister. I was 9 years old at the time. I have lived my whole life in fear of you. The grief was damn near debilitating.
 

Dave Watt (Posted May 9, 2012)
Where bridges should be open, you build road blocks. Where music should be inspiring, you bring noise. Where love should be free, you bind us with fear. I am just one of many dedicated to fighting this battle you started.
Dave Watt

Mike Hellman (Posted May 9, 2012)
Some days are best forgotten but I'm still here. You ravaged my body, you cleaned me out but I'm still here.
Mike Hellman

Jaco Lourens (Posted May 9, 2012)
I am much stronger than you. I decide my own fate and destiny. So, you need me to survive? Let's make a deal.
Jaco Lourens

Aaron Laxton (Posted May 2, 2012)
Thirty years ago and one day from the first report of the "gay cancer" that would later become defined as AIDS, we met.
Aaron Laxton

Andre Allen (Posted May 2, 2012)
As long as I have breath in my body I will make sure that your demise is near.
Andre Allen

Robert Breining (Posted April 30, 2012)
It wasn't until 2001 when we first stared into each other eyes.
When you were finally acknowledged, It wasn't a lie.
I hated you, I thought I would die
I kept you a secret held deep inside.
It took me over 5 years for me to accept you with pride
Robert Breining

Melissa Baker (Posted April 27, 2012)
I could've stayed silent about you living inside of me after he and I went our separate ways. But instead I began my volunteerism. I felt empowered to dispel stigma, to encourage people to test, respect & educate themselves. ... I have added advocate to who I AM. I have disclosed to many including my daughters.
Melissa Baker

Mkpeintre1 (Posted April 26, 2012)
I am an educated person and therefore supposedly knew better than to associate with you, well that's how I felt. I tried to stay away from you as much as possible throughout my life in and outside the gay community.
Mkpeintre1

Joshua Rosario King (Posted April 26, 2012)
HIV, I not only find joy in knowing you live with me. I am happier because I know I am gonna live a long healthy prosperous life. I exercise, eat right; take better care of me and my body. Why you ask? Because I let you in but could never let you defeat me.
 

Julia Mascardo (Posted April 24, 2012)
What makes me angry is how so many people who have you in their lives feel afraid (and, sadly, sometimes with reason) of mentioning you to their friends or family -- something that people with other medical or life challenges don't have to deal with in most cases.
 

Jack Mackenroth (Posted April 18, 2012)
In about '95, I started disclosing my status and that was a journey. And it made me a better person, so thank you, HIV, for that. Yes, there were definitely times when I hated you. If I had a magic wand today, would I get you out of my body? Yes, I would. But I can't do that, so you're just a part of me at this point.
Jack Mackenroth

Terry (Posted April 18, 2012)
Before we met, I was careless, shallow, and thought I had this whole world figured out. I admit, you were winning for a time, had me going crazy, losing my damn mind! Now, I have the victory! I'm still fulfilling my obligation to my country here in the states, I'm more physically fit and mentally healthy than I have been my whole life, I am compassionate and informed and I have my joy back.
 

Ken Warnock (Posted April 11, 2012)
One day, and I plan on living to see the day, you will be banished. Your crimes are well-documented and your punishment will be painful for you. One day, you will no longer be permitted to touch another person. You will not be able to seek refuge in the hapless body to wreak your havoc.
Ken Warnock

Veritee Reed Hall (Posted April 10, 2012)
As long as I live you live too. When I die you die too. And while I intend to live my life to the full and as long as possible ... On my death believe me I will be, while dying, celebrating the death of you the virus that has made me its home.
Veritee Reed Hall

Christopher Myron (Posted April 7, 2012)
I wanted to thank you for giving my life back. Forcing me to have quarterly check-ups to make sure I'm satisfying my compromised system gives me the privilege to talk specifically about things like my kidney functions. Because of which I will probably outlive the life I would've continued had we never met.
Christopher Myron

Mathew Fox (Posted April 7, 2012)
Even as much as I want to know why, I thank you. I never knew the man that my mother raised could be such a strong individual. I used to sit around and question god, of why me, but I got a better one, why not me. HIV you have showed me what truly matters in life, and just how precious life is.
 

Dona L. Lackey (Posted April 7, 2012)
You, HIV are my change. You are my fear. You are my Crocodile and I will ride the hell out of you and surrender to my change of life. I am always broken. Always. With my broken-ness, I will inspire and radiate light and life and continue to flow with the changes. You, despite your best effort, will not control me. I will control you.
Dona L. Lackey

Christopher J. Morris (Posted April 7, 2012)
You caught me off guard only because I thought I was doing everything right. I used condoms. I didn't hoe around. I even could still count on one hand how many people I had slept with. Never thought that rap would be why I would soon meet you or be able to say that I'm over you.
Christopher J. Morris

Mackenzie S. (Posted April 7, 2012)
So we meet again. I don't know if you remember me; I'm one of those people trying to fight you. I'm the one who tells your secrets, busts your myths, and stops you from spreading. I'm the one who tests at-risk youth in order to catch you early.
Mackenzie S.

Bonetta Spratley (Posted April 5, 2012)
Who would have thought that after 23 years I would even have words for you and would actually be able to effectively write out my feelings and be able to relay them to you openly! I'm sure you didn't; HA!
Bonetta Spratley

Elaine Henderson (Posted April 5, 2012)
I will continue to educate and advocate, I will march and I will pray until you are just a lesson in the history books. It won't be long now and I see you shivering with fear as your demise is in sight, you and all of your little opportunistic friends.
Elaine Henderson

Patrick Ingram (Posted April 4, 2012)
I hate that you can be within people whom we trust in marriages or relationships yet are unaware of their infidelities and actions. I hate that you lie within people who are not responsible enough to take care of themselves and protect others.
Patrick Ingram

Bobby William (Posted April 4, 2012)
I can clearly remember the first time ever truly hearing about you. It was a high school health class and all of us were instructed to do some research on a common STD. I chose you because I wanted to get to know you and to see what kind of damage that you did to people.
Bobby William

Betsy Yung (Posted April 3, 2012)
You are the definition of evil. I will always call you a fucker. I will never find anything to thank you for and I pray that medicine finds a way to eradicate you once and for all.
Betsy Yung

M.A. Singletary (Posted April 2, 2012)
It's kinda hard to write this kind of letter to you, HIV; because until we get our act together, you won't get your act together. ... Asking you to stop would be like asking God to stop rain from happening.
M.A. Singletary

Patrick T. Perkins (Posted April 2, 2012)
I was only eighteen when you crept into the tiny cracks in my doorway to my temple. You weren't welcomed here, but rather brought upon me, from dumb, naive mistakes made in my past.
Patrick T. Perkins

nookie31976 (Posted April 2, 2012)
I used to be this pretentious bastard, pretty much. Living in Washington, D.C. , I needed to be at the top of the social chain and look down upon people that I thought were beneath me. But after I met you, HIV, in November of 2004, you changed me.
nookie31976

Maria T. Mejia (Posted March 29, 2012)
You thought, Oh she has always been told she's a nothing and will never amount to nothing ... so she might just take her own life, destroy it with drugs or destroy others by giving it on purpose out of hate and bitterness. But no!!!!! You never won, never will win!
Maria T. Mejia

Mark Milano (Posted March 25, 2012)
But, listen -- killing your host isn't too smart, is it? That's why I offered you a deal many years ago: you can live in my body (like many other viruses and bacteria) and have some of my CD4 cells. But leave some for me!
Mark Milano

Philip B. Terry-Smith (Posted March 12, 2012)
Just as I was coming into my own, accepting my sexuality and firming up my identity, here you come. I was just barely out of high school and basic training, setting out on my own enjoying new found "adult" freedom when you started rearing your ugly head.
Philip B. Terry-Smith

Khafre Abif (Posted March 22, 2012)
You knew that I didn't believe that I was at risk because the men that I had sex with also had girlfriends. I think you knew that I was a perfect target because of the combination of denial, shame and internalized homophobia that was at work in my spirit and mind.
 

Ruben Bermudez (Posted March 21, 2012)
Remember those three good friends of mine that I introduce you to every night about 9 o'clock? Prezista, Norvir, and Truvada. Yea I bet you remember them. Don't worry, you are gonna run into them every night until it kills you!
Ruben Bermudez

Zandi Mdlalose (Posted March 19, 2012)
NEWSFLASH!!! YOU ARE NOT IN CONTROL of any aspect of my life. I may drag you to the grocery shop, to the doctor, to a picnic with my partner, but that's only to show you that I AM MOVING FORWARD.
 

Andrew Stewart (Posted March 16, 2012)
I will also never understand how you were able to convince the Pope and African bishops that you cannot be prevented with contraception. I will never understand how you convinced Ronald Reagan to cut funding to the CDC when you first appeared in New York and San Francisco.
Andrew Stewart

Reginald T. Jackson (Posted March 15, 2012)
I turned and tossed 'til it seemed you had gone
but here you are with the dawn
wish I'd forget you, but you're here to stay
it seems I met you when my love went away
now every day I start by saying to you
good morning HIV, what's new?
Reginald T. Jackson

Ken Medlin (Posted March 15, 2012)
I hope that the next generation that we empower will be Negative and you will be gone from our lips and heart forever. Thank you HIV for making me stronger to get rid of you for the Next Generation.
Ken Medlin

Lee Raines (Posted March 15, 2012)
You're nearly 23 years old. It's time for you to move out of the house.
Lee Raines

Mikhl (Posted March 15, 2012)
I have resented you, wished you dead, denied you existed and sobbed uncontrollably over you. ... But none of that has helped me to come to terms with you. It was part of the process I had to go through and continue to go through.
Mikhl

Anonymous (Posted March 12, 2012)
I grew up in those days where a little was known about you, only fear and stigma was the general feeling ... Ad campaigns and media were all focused on you, how brutally you ruined a lot of life, as you are still doing it unfortunately ...
 

happy85love (Posted March 11, 2012)
First off, it took my mom's health away and then it made a home inside me ... Around the time I was born, two years later it took my mother away ... Less than 10 years later it took my sister away ... And then it started bringing me down ...
happy85love

Lawrence Price (Posted March 10, 2012)
Saying that I want you gone is an understatement! You seriously need to go back to the Pit of Hell from which you came, because you are seriously nothing more than an attack from the devil himself.
 


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