Just*in Time: May 2012

by Justin B. Terry-Smith

Photo by Don Harris © Don Harris Photographics, LLC. All rights reserved
Dear Justin,
I just found you on YouTube; I’ve been researching HIV a lot these past two weeks because my boyfriend just tested positive. I am scared shitless. I don’t know what to do.

We’ve been together for almost half a year now and have always used protection. I got tested last week and it was negative. My doctor thinks I am clean because it has been about six weeks since I last saw him. I have a follow-up next month, but now I’m faced with a decision: What do I do now? I don’t know how to navigate through this situation. I feel like I need to leave him but I don’t know how to get out because he keeps saying that I’m only leaving because of his status. I am just scared. I have so many questions for you. If you have time please hit me back. I feel helpless and lost.


First, let me say: Breathe. Everything is going to be okay. Your partner is going to need someone to talk to and you might be the one that he needs. Make sure that you are there for support of him because he is going to need it. He needs to know that you are there for him and that this is not the end of the world.
Also, to make sure that you are okay, I would get tested again three months after the last HIV test you had. Also, let me say one thing about your doctor: I do not agree with the statement, “My doctor thinks I am clean because it has been about six weeks since I last saw him.” HIV is a very tricky disease. You have to get tested again because HIV can be present in the body, sometimes without being detected. The window period (the time you need to wait to get an accurate test) for HIV is generally three months. I would recommend testing again at six months if the contact was very risky.

Whether or not you stay in this relationship is up to you. You need to make a choice whether you believe he is worth staying in this relationship for. My question would be: Has he broken your trust? If yes, it is going to be hard getting it back and do not let him claim that you’re leaving him because of the HIV diagnosis—you would be leaving because he broke your trust, and, more importantly, your heart.

I’m having a hard time. I was recently hospitalized with meningitis for eight days. There, they discovered that I had herpes. I’m having such a hard time with this. It’s been almost two months now. I’m so upset with myself. The doctor said it was a new infection since I tested negative four weeks before. But my current partner tested negative. So I’m guessing it’s from my ex…but he doesn’t want to get tested for it. My doctor gave me pills for herpes, but says I only have to take them when I have an outbreak and he also told me the cream is ineffective. Tell me what to do?


Ouchhh, meningitis! Well, let me say if the doctors didn’t tell you already that your herpes infection probably went untreated and that is probably why you have meningitis. I will say that being diagnosed with herpes is hard, but it is something that is manageable. Do not be upset with yourself because it will only feed into the shame and guilt that you already feel.

You should right now focus on yourself and not your ex, but the good thing is that you’ve informed him. Also it sounds like you need a new doctor. Sounds like you need a second opinion. I take Valtrex once every day and I have the cream, which is effective. You also need to educate yourself more on meningitis as it is a very serious disease.

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].

May 2012

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