Just*in Time: October 2013

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Just*in Time
by Justin B. Terry-Smith

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

Justin,
I was recently diagnosed with HIV and I have been dealing with it pretty well but there are still times—at least once or twice a day—when I feel insecure or down about the situation. I have basically come to terms with the fact that I have HIV and the fact that I made a mistake. I’ve been looking for validation that I can live a long life with medication and taking care of myself. I read so many things on-line looking for answers, some of them encouraging and making sense and some that speak gloom and doom and make me feel like, even though I’m taking medicine, AIDS is coming and my time is short. I refuse to listen to anything that speaks that kind of negativity, but it’s not always that easy being strong, considering this is still new and I have really no one to talk to or relate to about this.

Another thing, Justin, is that I am afraid I’ll never find a soul mate. I felt inspired watching your videos on YouTube and discovering that you have a husband, but I feel like it was hard finding a guy that acts right without HIV in the picture let alone when it is (LOL). It really gets to me sometimes. I know you are busy and have a lot going on yourself, but if you find time soon to respond you will hopefully let me know how silly I’m being (LOL). I would appreciate it and thank you for everything you are doing to encourage those dealing with this and for being so brave.
God bless you—hope to hear from you soon.
Sincerely, James

You aren’t being silly. I honestly think you are doing the right thing. I think that taking out the negativity in your life is a very important thing, not only because you are living with HIV, but because you are living.

I’ve had to cut close friends out of my life because of the negativity they brought or bring into my life and I will continue to do so. It is very important that HIV-infected people do this, because a big part of being infected with HIV is mental. Keeping positive about living can affect how your body will deal with HIV and other infections.

Taking your HIV medications is a big part of the physical part of it. Continue to take your medications! Trust me, I have a lot of friends who denied they had HIV and refused medication even after their positive diagnosis. They have since passed and some continue to pass away. I think of Josh, Leon, Rodney, Patrick and many others who didn’t even make it to their twenties, so heed my warning and take your meds.
As for love, that is a different conversation, so let’s talk about it, shall we? Okay, this is a big concern to a lot of HIV-positive people. In my opinion I would always try to be open in the beginning, because if they have an issue with me being positive then I’m glad I found out in the beginning so I don’t waste my time; if all they see is HIV when they look at me then what is the point of even going on a second date? You will find your soul mate—just keep that positivity going.

Justin:
I’m doing great. Thank you so much for getting back to me and following up to see if I am okay. I was going through a bit of a culture shock when I found out but I’m healthy and loving life. I do struggle with trying to date and find someone and also feel a little insecure about talking about my status with anyone because people judge. Any suggestions?
James

My suggestion is: “Fuck ’em!” Anyone who is going to judge you because you have HIV can kiss my black, gay, author, activist, married, parenting HIV-positive ass. You will always have HIV (unless there is a cure) whether or not you decide to speak openly about it with anyone. The choice is ultimately yours, but the more you speak openly about it, the more comfortable you will be.