Just*in Time: October 2012

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by Justin B. Terry-Smith

Photo by Don Harris © Don Harris Photographics, LLC. All rights reserved
Hi Justin,
I actually just read on your blog, Justin’s HIV Journal, that you are now a foster/adoption parent in the state of Maryland—that is wonderful. [Editor’s note: Justin and his husband Phil just became foster/adoptive parents to a beautiful LGBT teen in Maryland.] I’m so happy for you both; I know that it is truly a blessing and a joy to add a little one into your life. How old is the child? Did you tell the child about your HIV? If so, how did you do this?

The reason why I’m asking is because I need to tell my son. He is a very rambunctious, intelligent boy. He is about twelve years-old and I really don’t know what to say to him. I love my son and I don’t want to hurt or scare him in any way. I care for him more than I care about my own life or others around me. His mother passed away at childbirth and I now have met a woman that I plan on marrying next year. She and I fell in love at first sight and actually met on an HIV-positive dating site.

My son means the world to me and I don’t know what to say. Please tell me what to do.
—Positive Father

Hey, first off, thank you so much for the compliment. Our son is adorable and very special to us. Already calling us Daddy (me) and Dad (Phil), he made me cry for the first time.

Okay, when we brought him into our lives, we decided to be open and honest with him. You have to understand that if you do not tell children the truth when they ask a question, and if they find out that you have been lying to them, there is a chance they might not ever trust you. We told him the truth and he was okay with it. You have to understand that our child is a teen and yours, I’m guessing, is younger. But, with all children just answer their questions as best as you can. Be forward and upfront with your son. Let him know that everything will be okay and he should not be afraid of you just because you have HIV. I would also do this at a time and place that is familiar to him and to make sure there is nobody else around. Educate him about HIV and reassure him that DADDY WILL BE OK ☺…….AND SO WILL HIS FUTURE MOMMY.

Hey, Justin!
I found your site from my gay cousin, who loves you. Anyways, I was hoping you could help me out with something. My girlfriend is HIV-positive, right? And I am not. Okay, so here it goes. I’ve had sex with HIV-positive women before and I never seem to catch it. But I heard that you still can catch it—am I just lucky or what?
—Juan

Well, thank your cousin for me for supporting me and my cause. Listen, buddy, and listen well. I don’t know how many HIV-positive women that you’ve slept with without a condom, but all it takes is just one time for you to catch HIV. One time! Sometimes, when someone is exposed to HIV, it could take years for immune system problems to start. Also there are people on this earth that have had sex with people that are HIV-positive but don’t ever get the disease, but that is slim to none.

You need to be careful as well because HIV isn’t the only STD/STI (sexually transmitted disease/sexually transmitted infection) you can catch. Some consider hepatitis C even worse. There is also syphilis and other diseases for which you would have to be reported to your state health department and, if you do not comply with their requirements, then they come to your house with a car labeled, “STATE HEALTH DEPT.” Lovely thought…isn’t it?

Justin B. Terry-Smith has been fighting the good fight since 1999. He’s garnered recognition and awards for his work, but he’s more concerned about looking for new ways to transform society for the better than resting on his laurels. He started up in gay rights and HIV activism in 2005, published an HIV-themed children’s book, I Have A Secret (Creative House Press) in 2011, and created his own award-winning video blog called, “Justin’s HIV Journal”: justinshivjournal.blogspot.com. Now, with this column, Justin has found a way to give voice to the issues that people write to him about. Visit his main Web site at www.justinbsmith.com. He welcomes your questions at [email protected]

October 2012

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