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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

24-Year-Old Former Porn Model Given an AIDS Diagnosis

By Jermaine Wright

April 8, 2014

So I'm doing my usual Facebook searching, and came across a very interesting video of a former porn model who, at 24 years old, was diagnosed with AIDS. Justin Washington, more publicly known as Snow Bunni, recorded a video for The Luckey Star Blog of himself in a hospital bed discussing his recent diagnosis, briefly explaining who he was, and very briefly touching on how the party lifestyle took him over.



While watching this video, I applauded him for being so open with his diagnosis and using his platform to reach out to his community. However, I felt like we needed to see more. The video went viral and the comments started pouring in and the true message of the video was lost. More people were focused on his "new" relationship with God, and his porn shoots and the company he had once worked for. So, in an attempt to give a more accurate version of the story and the intentions of the video, I reached out to Snow and here's what came of that.

Justin checked into the hospital in Hot Springs, Arkansas, December 8, 2013. He tells me as he waited in his room a doctor walks in wearing a red coat with Infectious Disease written on the side of it. At this point he's nervous because he doesn't know what's going on. The doctor then asks him if he knows what pneumocystis pneumonia is, then explains to him that this is an AIDS-related pneumonia and gives Justin the news that he has an AIDS diagnosis. With an opportunistic infection, a viral load of 100K +, and a CD4 count of only 31, Justin's life had just changed dramatically. His doctor explains to him that with a CD4 count that low that he had to have seroconverted at least 5 or 6 years ago, making Justin only 18 years old at that time.

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Prior to his diagnosis, Justin was a hardworking man. Raised in a Southern Baptist home by his mom, he seems to have a good grasp on his spiritual life and his relationship with God. Although his upbringing may not have been the best and he learned a lot of life lessons from living in the 'hood, he remained a hard worker and at 18 moved to Florida to pursue and achieve his B.A. in Business Administration. During this time, Justin became involved in "the lifestyle." He began working in the porn industry under the name Snow Bunni. He explains that he was living "the life" or at least what he thought was the life. He had sugar daddies, as much sex as he wanted, the pocket change from porn, while he was still able to pursue his degree. Experimenting with cocaine, ecstasy, weed, and anything he could get his hands on, Justin tells me that he lived a very carefree life at the time. He feels as though he just surrounded himself with the wrong people, and had lost his view of God and spirituality.

Fast forward to 2013; Justin is confused. He had last gotten tested in October of 2013 and everything came back negative. Throughout the years he explains to his doctor that he has had a few tests, all coming back negative. The doctor says that he is baffled as well. The only explanation he has is that the HIV was dormant in his lungs for all these years and had finally decided to surface. Now I still don't understand how this is possible but hey [Editor's note: According to reliable research, it is actually not possible -- it's important to remember that doctors do not automatically test for HIV when they test for other sexually transmitted infections.] ... Justin did his best to remain strong for his family and keep himself together for them, but also says that when he was alone he cried and had conversations with God wondering why this happened to him.

He remained in the hospital for 2.5 weeks until the pneumonia had cleared from his lungs. In January 2014 he was prescribed Atripla and decided to start his meds mid-January. "The side effects are a bitch!" he says jokingly but serious at the same time. "I felt as though I had the pneumonia all over again. I was weak and couldn't walk, was like the flu x10." He also experienced a lot of the other common symptoms of Atripla such as the dizziness and his vivid dreams. Taking the meds was a difficult task at first. He would often forget and almost go all day without taking them. Setting reminders for his meds was his way to work around this.

I asked Justin how the people around him had taken his diagnosis -- more specifically his mom who had put him out at the age of 15 when he told her he was gay:

"She said, 'I told you so.' And talked about how I had plagued the family with my decision to be gay, and now this virus. Even though I'm the only one in my family to graduate college I still felt as though I had embarrassed my family and let them down. One occasion I was chilling with a friend of mine from high school and he was nervous about smoking after me. He asked me if he could catch it from smoking with me. I take times like this to educate people on the virus. That's what I had to do myself. When I was given this diagnosis I went and got like 10 books about HIV/AIDS, I wanted to know as much as I could about the virus."

Justin Washington

During my conversation with Justin he seemed to be in really high spirits. Even saying that sometimes he tries to make a joke out of his diagnosis. He has always lived his life as a very happy person, with no regrets, and feels as though God has a plan for him. After reading the forums that circulated, I asked Justin how he felt about the negative feedback he was getting. Some wondering why he has become so religious now that he has AIDS. "There will always be negativity. Sometimes we do things in life and God allows things to happen. My faith in God has always been there, I just got caught up in the party life of a young, gay male in Miami. Having AIDS has cause me to return to God. Who wouldn't?! What Christian-raised person doesn't turn to God when something drastic happens to him?"

Now writing for The Luckey Star as a blogger, Justin writes under the name Sno'Bunni Monroe. Here, he blogs about his life, his relationship with God, and his life with this new diagnosis. I was shocked to read that his blogs weren't about putting down the porn industry; that's actually what I expected. We laughed about that, and he told me that's not what he's about. He isn't in this to cast blame or point the finger. His goal is to do outreach and use his story to help others. He wants his followers to take care of themselves. Not to get caught in that 10 minutes to sometimes an hour of pleasure and not practice safer sex. It's not worth changing your whole life over. "I am Jermaine Wright AKA PozLyfe09 and I approve this message" ... lol!

This conversation with Justin was a very exciting one. Just hearing someone in my age group who had been given such life-changing news, still be so cheerful was very uplifting in my own story of life with the virus. I'm pleased to hear that he's taken this, and found a way to help others. I could have continued talking to Justin for another hour but he got lost and had to pull over on the side of the road.

HAHAHAHA!!!!! Keep in touch, Justin!!


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Is "Dawson's 20-Load Weekend" the Most Important Gay Porn Film Ever Made?
Why the Porn Industry's HIV Problem Is Our Problem, Too
More Inspiring Stories of Gay Men With HIV
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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Ben (Chicago) Tue., May. 13, 2014 at 1:47 pm EDT
"my decision to be gay" just cut through my heart like a knife. Ouch.
...also wondering if he's gotten away from "Southern Baptist" "Christianity."
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Jermaine Wright

Jermaine Wright

Jermaine Wright is a young, black, bisexual father of five who is also living with HIV. Following a period of service in the Army he is now at the Community AIDS Resource and Education Services of Southwest Michigan (CARES) where he promotes Mr. Friendly, a prevention tool used to raise awareness of the stigma associated with HIV. His mission is to reach out to other young black people living with HIV in a safe manner via his YouTube channel, PozLyfe09. For many youth, this is the only place they can go to discuss and share about living with HIV with someone who is open about his status and sexuality. Topics of his videos include: disclosure, dating, fathering a child post HIV diagnosis, passing on the virus, barebacking while HIV positive and more.

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