I’m Samuel, but you can call me Sam. Okay I know you probably get a lot of questions e-mailed to you but thank you for reading. I first heard of you when I read your column for Baltimore Gay Life newspaper and now I’m loving the advice column “Just*in Time”; it’s such a great resource for people living with HIV.
I’ve been living with HIV since I was eighteen and now I’m twenty-five living strong. I made my first speech as a person living with HIV a couple years ago and it felt really good. Speaking of years back I remember you were on Norvir, Truvada and Reyataz at one point in time. How did you like that medication? Did you have the gel caps for Norvir? When traveling how did that go with the gel caps?
Well, let me say thank you first and foremost for following my work. It is really important that activists and advocates in the public health field are able to reach the population, thus influencing policy and people’s mindsets about certain populations and illnesses. Speaking out as a HIV-positive person can be therapeutic and empowering for the one speaking and at the same time educational for those that are listening to you.
Since 2010 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the tablet form of Norvir to be prescribed to those who need it. Since then I honestly don’t know anyone who is on Norvir that still takes the soft gel tablets, unless they haven’t told me yet. Now I’m on Complera, which is a one-pill-a-day regimen. I like it a lot.
Sam, keep on speaking to the people; they need to be educated on HIV and as long as there is no cure then we need to keep trying to prevent HIV incidences, especially in countries that are not as developed as others.
Hey, sexy Justin, I am a future adult entertainer and I’m a little scared. I’m seeing more and more adult movies coming out that are geared toward bareback sex. Do you think this is true? I was always taught that bareback sex was bad. What is your opinion on barebacking?
—Future Adult Entertainer
First, thank you for the sexy compliment. To bareback or not to bareback is a decision we all have to make on our own. As a public health professional all I can do is tell you to weigh your options. If you decide to have bareback sex and you have tested negative, I would suggest you talk to your doctor about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). As you might know the CDC has stated it is about ninety-percent effective in preventing HIV infection between one person and another.
In the past the community and myself were anti-barebacking. People who barebacked were often looked down upon and were basically slut-shamed, which is detrimental to any population. If that is not what you are into, who are you to tell others what to do with other consenting adults? It’s really nobody’s business. My opinion on barebacking is that as long as you and your sexual partner(s) know the risk and are okay with them, who am I to try and stop you?
The adult industry has seen its multiple scares of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), even though they do try to safeguard their workers from HIV and other STIs. But sometimes YOU must take the initiative and safeguard yourself, especially if you’re going into the bareback adult industry. I myself admit that I watch bareback porn and I don’t look at any of my friends that do bareback porn any different than my friends who are adult entertainers that don’t. We should not judge the men and women who are in the adult entertainment industry; in fact, I was once a stripper and an escort and I don’t mind telling my story. Just remember to take responsibility for your own health on either path you take.
Justin B. Terry-Smith, MPH, 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. Presently, he is working toward his doctorate in public health. Visit his main Web site at www.justinbsmith.com. He welcomes your questions at [email protected].