Just*in Time: November 2014

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Just*in Time
by Justin B. Terry-Smith

Justin,
Let me ask you something—maybe you can put this in a blog or something…. [Here’s what I want to say to someone I am seeing:] “I link you to [health] services and push you to go, so that you can know your HIV status and get screened for other STDs. We both continue to fuck around raw with other people and share our experiences openly. But when I check up on you and your health status, you continue to tell me that you haven’t gone and you don’t care to go. Should I continue to want to sleep with you?”

Is it hypocritical of me to be concerned as I also continue to fuck bareback but I always get screened for STDs?
—R&B

Photo by Don Harris  © Don Harris Photographics, LLC. All rights reserved
Photo by Don Harris © Don Harris Photographics, LLC. All rights reserved

First I would like to say we no longer call them sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but rather sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

But back to your question: “Should I continue to want to sleep with you?” Honestly, wanting and needing are two different things, and wanting someone or needing someone are different, as well. If the individual you talk about is your partner or someone you aspire to be your partner, that is, someone you want in your life, I would make sure that individual cares about his or her own health. I’ve always said to myself: Before anyone can care for another he or she must first care for him or herself.

When asking someone if he or she has seen a doctor sometimes you can see why the individual has refused. For example, he may not be used to seeing a doctor. But most times you cannot see why because it’s psychological. He may be denying that he might have exposed himself to HIV or another STI.

As for you, all I can say is no one here is a hypocrite but you must be careful about STIs. You are an adult, I gather, and you must take your own health into consideration. I cannot and nor do I want to tell anyone what to do with their own bodies. You need to make sure you empower yourself in protecting your own body and, in doing so, you protect others around you. If you want to continue seeing him then keep the lines of communication open. If you do not keep talking to him about being tested, he probably will not ever bring it up again, though constant communication will help and the advice may even eventually sink in.

Helpful Hint: Sometimes I think my son never listens to me even when I tell him something until I’m blue in the face. Sometimes he listens better when it comes from different people telling him the same thing.

Justin,
I got tested Friday for HIV; I got my results today and they’re positive. I didn’t know who to reach out to but you; I have followed your journey for years and now I have it, which is still shocking. I am kinda depressed. I go in tomorrow to have more labs done. I also educated myself on the laws behind it and I am determined to find out who gave it to me because I believe they knew. I have a question: Can your CD4 levels or anything show about how long you have had it?
—Carrie

First thing is first: XOXOXOX. I know that feeling sweetheart.

If you want to know who infected you that is your personal choice. There is no test that will tell you when you were infected with HIV. Also when trying to pinpoint the person who infected you just remember he might not know that he has HIV. Don’t forget—it takes two to tango. We need to remember to blame the virus, especially if neither party knew he or she had HIV in the first place. Finding out who infected you can turn into a witchhunt and become vengeful. I’ve seen too many times people who are put in jail even when they do not even know they have infected anyone else. I would advise that you sit down with all your past sexual partners and tell them. Just like you, they have the right to know.

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].