Hello to TheBody.com
A Video Blog
By Justin B. Terry-Smith
November 4, 2009
My name is Justin B. Smith. I'm the writer and producer of Justin's HIV Journal and this is the first time I've written for TheBody.com. I'm so very happy to be here to be able to talk with all of you guys and I hope to be writing here a lot.
A couple years ago I came up with Justin's HIV Journal. I honestly didn't know how I was going to do it or get it off the ground. I was inspired by the way Barack Obama was using the Internet as a tool to get his message out.
I have to admit I had many reservations in putting myself out there like I did. I thought about so many things that people might say about me. I worried for example, that they might say, "He deserves HIV for being gay," or "He slept with men and drank a lot, no wonder he has HIV." It hurts to my soul that people would say such things about me, but I remain strong.
Earlier this year (four years after my diagnosis in 2005) I was interviewed by channel 9 and channel 4 in my area about HIV blogging in Washington, DC. Coming out publically about my HIV has brought me such peace and has lifted a weight off my shoulders.
Going public like this does not mean disclosing to my family was easy (which happened before I got on the Internet). I still think about the dreaded phone call that I received from my stepfather. I didn't want them to find out the way they did (someone told them), but it happened. They were crying and after much talk and understanding, I further educated them about HIV and they educated me as well, by doing research into HIV themselves.
Ironically, even though I'm now disclosing to the world, I did not directly disclose to them. They found out through a mutual friend. A lot of my relatives are supportive, but I have to say that at first they did not like the fact that I was so open about my HIV status. One of my relatives said, "Why would someone put their business out like that?"
Every time she said that I knew she was talking about me. BUT I did a video telling every one of my friends and family members why I was doing what I was doing. AGAIN I will reiterate it to you as well. I feel that I'm doing this for the community and for the world. Being open and honest about your HIV will help others understand it more.
I understand that not everyone can do this. Other people will put their job at risk. I've been very fortunate. I came out at work because I knew I needed to eat during the day more often then someone who is HIV negative. My supervisor was fine with it. I was lucky. So I don't think everyone can do as I have done and disclose to the world...but really it's a good idea to tell someone if you're HIV positive. It really takes a huge weight off.
The first comment that I ever got right after I posted my video was, "So you got poked by a dirty dick." That comment stung and it almost made me take my video down. But when I looked at the other comments, I saw inspiration and encouragement. So I was convinced that, just because one person says something negative, you do not have to react to it, especially if it's based on ignorance or arrogance. The one thing about ignorance is that if you're truly ignorant about HIV, you're not going to ask questions.
Every time I get a positive comment, it washes the negatives away.
The purpose of me doing this video is to raise awareness and push the message of HIV prevention. Everyone has a choice to make when having sex. You have the choice to use a condom or not. I suggest you weigh those options. Think about it....
We ALL have choices. I suggest you make the right one, I didn't.
Be Smart and Be Safe
Justin B. Smith
Justin's HIV Journal
To contact Justin, click here.
Comment by: JD
Fri., Feb. 12, 2010 at 10:53 pm EST
First I would like to say THANK YOU! for this blog. It is helpful to me as a mother of a black gay man in his 20's (diagnosed 2009). Who I have always supported and loved unconditionaly.
You are correct people need to be informed, because knowledge is how we will reduce HIV and the hateful comments from people. Whether you are gay, straight, black or white HIV affects us all.
I will be reading your blog as often as possible. It has been helpful to me as a mother to hear the thoughts and opinions of a HIV Positive black gay man in his 20's.
I wish you best of luck in all that you do. Continue success with this blog. God Bless You.
Comment by: MinisterTerry Fluker
Sun., Jan. 3, 2010 at 1:12 pm EST
Praise God, for brothers like you.. brothers like you make the world a positive place to live and be blessed. Continue to reaching our MSM brothers, who don't understand HIV is not who you are it's what you do that gets, one infected with HIV/AIDS. God has blessed you to bless others.
Minister Terry Fluker
Comment by: Jane
Tue., Nov. 10, 2009 at 2:56 am EST
Once you test positive for HIV, the how you contracted it is not the main issue (apart for people who are warped on pointing fingers) - it is how you live with it that really counts!! You have chosen to share your life with the world so that others can learn from your experience and though negative comments hurt, they should not derail you from the beautiful work you are doing. Everyone who visits your blog, reads or hears your story learns something about Living with HIV and that personal attitude has a lot to do with living a good life, regardless of HIV infection. I come from an African country where being gay is totally unacceptable, even unthinkable for most folks! Does this mean there are no gays in my country? Of course there are lots but they can never speak out openly, and if they have HIV, it is double tragedy for them. How I wish we could accord everyone living with HIV the same support, respect and services, not withstanding their sexual orientation! Keep up the good work, stay strong and focused and God bless you.
Comment by: Bro. James A Bryant
(Snellville, Georgia 30039 )
Mon., Nov. 9, 2009 at 6:20 pm EST
God bless you my brother; your words & video is very inspirational and encouraging. I believe that God can heal HIV/AIDS I was diagnosed in 2006. I'm 47 years old today, an ordained minister,husband, father and minister. I too made some bad choices in life but God has forgiven me & set me free now I'm believing him every day for my healing, many people don't think that HIV/AIDS can be healed but through the words of God he tells us that; he is a God that healeth thee, Jehova Rapha! keep up the fight and faith my brother...
Comment by: nicole williams
Mon., Nov. 9, 2009 at 1:13 pm EST
It's not about tell the whole world it's about being in touch with yourself first then when you is really to tell the world you is poz it's ok because you the one got deal with the up an dowm because some will not take the news very well it hurt like hell when you the one got look at how your reflex has change many want understand
Comment by: Debbie
Sat., Nov. 7, 2009 at 6:40 pm EST
God bless you for all you are doing to help prevent others from HIV infection. You are my hero!!!
Comment by: dr george pradhan, mbbs,
Sat., Nov. 7, 2009 at 6:10 am EST
Justin! congrats, commendable, great. keep up the brave front.# this is india, andhra province, leads in HIV world. VisakhaPatnamCity i am into HIV drop-in center and end stage support at home with a tiny budget, a pilot project.# yes we too have PLWHA coming out into the open. But most of them dare not. cos of eviction from the rented house, school, house maid job,shame,and all such you know very well. mostly for no fault of theirs.# yes Justin be in the fore front. Bless you.
Comment by: Matt
Fri., Nov. 6, 2009 at 11:47 am EST
Congrats brother, this is tremendous, i love your courage to inform all who care to listen that AIDS is real but with a positive attitude, you can add several years to your life.
Comment by: Kim Washington
(Safety Harbor, FL)
Fri., Nov. 6, 2009 at 9:28 am EST
I love you! I admire your courage. I applaud your effort. You are going to make an impact on others. It takes a lot of courage to let the world in like you are. I support you in every way. You don't know me, but I feel I know some things about you. You are a lovely human being on this planet sending out love. No one should have to have this disease. We are getting smarter than this disease, and now thaat you are making healthier choices you will be ok. Stay strong and stay positive. You have a lot to offer in a time when what you are offering is needed. Love is all we need.
Kim Washington RN
Comment by: RC
(New York, NY)
Fri., Nov. 6, 2009 at 8:46 am EST
Be strong Justin, been living with this disease since '01 and yes I have made some bad decisions in the past that lead to it. They keep us alive with medications but the physical, psychological and emotional side effects of the disease are tremendous. I wish you all the strength and power in the world to keep fighting........
Comment by: theislander
Fri., Nov. 6, 2009 at 5:05 am EST
WE HAVE TO LEARN FROM YOU. DISCLOSING YOUR HIV STATUS IS LIKE SAVING THE PLANET, PEOPLE MUST NO LONGER FEAR DISCLOSING THEIR STATUS. KEEP IT COOL. GOD BLESS YOU MAN
Comment by: Jerry
Thu., Nov. 5, 2009 at 9:26 pm EST
I'm very impressed with what you've done with the video. It's an inspiration to all of us who've been HIV+ for a long time. I've been positive for 22 years and counting and can remember how people mostly men were dying like flies. I also remember living with HIV in denial until developing full-blown AIDS with PCP and a fever temp of 107. How and why I did not die I can only say it wasn't my time to go. I've since become very open about my HIV status and I use it to educate people about it. I've had a lot of postive feed-back for the most part, lost a few so-called friends along the way which is okay. All I can say is keep up the good work and don't let any negativity get you down. Consider the source of someone who takes the time to be so negative. They have to live with their miserable selves.
Comment by: Kirk
Thu., Nov. 5, 2009 at 8:11 pm EST
I respect you for the courage and love it took to say ALL. I know you are helping because you helped me so much. Thank you man of courage!
Comment by: Scott
Thu., Nov. 5, 2009 at 4:12 pm EST
Nice video Justin. I enjoyed reading your (and watching) your story. My partner is POZ and I'm NEG. When he was diagnosed I immersed myself with information on HIV and helped him learn more about the virus. He's not "out" to many people and sometimes I wish he was because it would give me others to discuss his situation and HIV with.
For now, he's fortunate in that he takes one pill a day and has had EXCELLENT response to his treatment with NO side effects and/or opportunistic infections whatsoever. He's the picture of health to many as I can't remember a day he's ever been sick (in over 7 yrs). His CD4 was 5 when he was diagnosed 4 years ago and it's now 450 +/- (non detectable load).
I think my partner is somewhat "out of sight - out of mind" regarding his HIV status. Hopefully, he will continue as he has to date - healthy and happy.
Thanks for your insight!
Comment by: Thomas Crandall
Thu., Nov. 5, 2009 at 3:54 pm EST
Justin, Very impressed with your blogs, emails etc. Keep up the great work. You as a young man, make me proud to know you.
Comment by: Enrique
Thu., Nov. 5, 2009 at 3:08 pm EST
You are brave! I really like you video and your message. congratulations and thanks!
Comment by: testosteronex10
Thu., Nov. 5, 2009 at 2:21 pm EST
Thank you for having the courage for doing what you are doing. This is helping EVERYONE. HIV needs to come out in the open instead of being treated like a dirty little secret. Young guys in particular think they are invisiable, and need a dose of reality. I have thought of comming out with my status, but working in a same industry I haven't found the courage to do so.
Comment by: AIDS Alliace of Northwest GA
Thu., Nov. 5, 2009 at 2:11 pm EST
I commend you for your courage. How can I get a copy of this video. I want to show it to some young gay brothers, I will be speaking to in a few days.
Comment by: Theresa
(Lakeland Fl )
Thu., Nov. 5, 2009 at 1:54 pm EST
I commend you on your efforts to educated our communities nationwide with your coming forth may encourage others to know their status. Peace,Blessings and
Comment by: John-Manuel Andriote
Thu., Nov. 5, 2009 at 1:14 pm EST
You rock, Justin! You are a brave man--and you are right: We need to be open and honest about being HIV+. Hiding and lying only feed the false belief that having this virus is something to be ashamed of, as if it's some kind of moral judgment. We know it's not. We know it's just a virus, a microbe. Having it--just as we already have trillions of other microbes living in our bodies--is simply a price some of us have had to pay for living in a physical world. It really doesn't "mean" anything more than that. So keep on rockin' the world, my man. Hat's off to ya.
Comment by: Jazz
Thu., Nov. 5, 2009 at 1:13 pm EST
Powerful testimony that can serve as a vehicle to bring across prevention message to youth and adults! Thank you, Justin for sharing your story.
Comment by: Dy'Ari
Wed., Nov. 4, 2009 at 6:44 pm EST
Continue Being a LIGHT and telling your story! The visibility of confidence and light in what some people feel is a dark situation starts to become their strength. Thank you for your strength!
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Justin's HIV Journal
Justin B. Terry-Smith
Justin B. Terry-Smith, M.P.H., may be one of the most public African Americans living with HIV: He has his own website, and he's even on YouTube. He is a noted HIV and gay civil rights activist and the creator of "Justin's HIV Journal," a popular blog in which he shares his trials and tribulations of living with HIV. A U.S. Air Force veteran, Justin resides in Laurel, Maryland, with his husband, Dr. Philip Terry-Smith, and their son, Lundyn. Presently, Justin is working toward earning his doctorate in public health. He welcomes your questions.
(Photo credit: Don Harris)
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