Just*in Time: April 2013

Just*in Time
by Justin B. Terry-Smith

Hi Justin,

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

I am struggling because I recently found out that my boyfriend tested positive for HIV during our relationship. It has been six months to date since this happened & I am still dealing with the situation mentally. When I first got the news I was getting tested every two weeks and about two months ago I have limited it to once a month. All of my tests have been negative, but, for some reason, I am dealing with anxiety issues to the max. I feel like every symptom is there and I’m having it. I don’t understand why I can’t move on from this. Getting tested should be helping me but it just takes me back to the same place I was when I first got the news. Maybe you can give me some words of wisdom and encouragement that will help me to move past this & move on. Oh, and now I’m terrified to have sex. I don’t sleep around I was always in a relationship so I don’t understand why me…so maybe you can help.

Let me start out by saying that you have to stay strong. It is very hard getting out of this stage. The not knowing can be very tough to get through, but you can get through this and you will get through this.

Whether or not the test ever comes back positive or remains negative, you will be okay. HIV most of the time will take longer than two months to show up in any blood test. I don’t know what symptoms you might have but I’m going to guess that you are questioning just about everything that might be happening to your body right now. The key is to stay calm, and don’t worry until there is something to worry about.

Also, you must feel very betrayed right now—that I understand—but we must put attention where it would benefit everyone and that is on the virus. We need to blame the virus and not others. I suggest therapy as well, because it does truly help you move forward. Yes, there might be a time period where you are afraid to have sex with anyone, but in time that might pass. A lot of people have the misconception that HIV only infects people who are promiscuous which is NOT the case. People in “monogamous” relationships can be infected with HIV as well. Stay strong, Monique, be calm and keep in mind this motto that has always helped me get through life: Worry about the things you have control over and do not worry about the things you do not. Be brave, baby. Hugs and kisses!

Justin, I think I could learn a lot from you. I seldom disclose my status to anyone, including a few that I’ve had “close encounters” with. I’m in fear of doing so. Although, the few times that I have told my partners about it, they replied, “Don’t worry, I have it to.” Unfortunately, the disease affects more than we give it credit for….

Back to me—I’m afraid of being alienated by my family and friends. I’ve lived with this for twelve years now, so you think I would be comfortable with it. Anything that you have to share with me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Justin.

I understand about only disclosing to those who you are intimate with. Fear is the ultimate enemy. In the 1980s–90s and even now people are afraid of losing their jobs, friends, family, and their very lives if they disclose their status. I’ve always been the kind of guy to stand up for what I believe in even if that means losing people I love. I would start small by telling someone who you know. The more you tell people the easier it gets. I’m not saying, shout it from the rooftops, but maybe we should start with a whisper. When you throw the tiniest pebble in a pond, it makes ripples. But those ripples expand throughout the pond. If they have a problem with it remember it is those people who have the problem and not you. SMOOTCHIES

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]

Read the article in the April 2013 digital issue by clicking here.

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