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U.S. News

Maryland: Local Blogger Shares His HIV Experience

February 19, 2009

Diagnosed with HIV in 2006, Air Force veteran Justin Smith of Laurel, Md., noticed few resources for young, black gay men living with the virus. Smith, 29, found Internet diaries about others' experiences with HIV, but he found no one using video to share those stories.

Smith launched his "Justin's HIV Journal" blog in spring 2007, hoping to prevent others from having unprotected sex and to inspire other HIV patients. Smith said he also started the journal in part to document any physical side effects from the medications. His entries can be emotionally raw and detailed. "The goal is to reach people on a different level and say to them, ‘It's OK that you're positive.' It's not the end of the world and you can go on living your life with HIV."

Smith said he was devastated when he got the rapid-result HIV test in 2006. "I'm 26, I couldn't be HIV-positive," he remembers thinking. "I walked back into the HIV testing room and the reader asked me, ‘Are you ready to hear your results, Mr. Smith?' I said, ‘Yes, I am.' She said, ‘Mr. Smith, you've tested positive for the HIV virus.'"

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"It's a great way to reach a younger generation, and I was inspired by [President] Obama's new wave of using technology as far as the election goes, so I thought this would reach them better than reading any book," Smith said. "I'm not saying that books are not important, but a lot of 20-somethings are not reading like they used to, and are on the Internet cruising, hooking up, going on YouTube, looking at videos. When people are newly diagnosed, they're trying to reach out for help."

To view Smith's blog, visit www.justinshivjournal.blogspot.com.

Back to other news for February 2009

Adapted from:
Washington Blade
02.13.2009; Amy Cavanaugh


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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