Justin's HIV Journal

Thursday, September 3, 2009

This Positive Life: An Interview With Justin B. Smith

This Positive Life: An Interview With Justin B. Smith

Hello and welcome. This is Bonnie Goldman, Editorial Director of TheBody.com. Welcome to This Positive Life. I'm here today with Justin B. Smith. Today I'll be talking with Justin about what it's like to live with HIV. Welcome, Justin.


Getting Tested for HIV

Let's start at the very beginning. Can you start by describing how you found out you were HIV positive?

I kind of had an idea that something was wrong with me anyway. I was sweating in bed and I didn't understand why I was sweating so hard. "Why am I sweating? I have satin sheets. This doesn't make any sense."

Then I woke up and as soon as I sat up, I threw up twice on the side of my bed. I ran to the bathroom and I threw up on the side of my toilet and I finally got the last one inside the toilet. [laughs]

I knew something was wrong. I decided to go to the clinic -- to Us Helping Us, People Into Living, Incorporated, in [Washington] D.C., which specializes in LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] testing, awareness and education targeting African Americans.

Do they have free HIV testing?

Yes, it's free testing.

How long ago was this?

I went to them in 2006. I used to work there back in 2004. I went there to work as their administrative assistant. I knew I could trust them. I had friends there that were still working there. I went there and I called my friend Brian. He was off. I went in, got the test. It was a 20-minute OraSure test.

It was a swab test where they swab inside of your mouth and then they test it.

So this is a rapid test and you could immediately find out if you're HIV positive?

Yes, in twenty minutes.

What was your expectation while you waited for the results?

"Going home with somebody when you're high or drunk, you really don't think about a lot of the things that you should be thinking about, like condom use."

A million things were running through my mind. "I'm 26 years old. You know, there's no reason why..." Ignorantly, of course, I had thought I couldn't be positive, "My name is Justin B. Smith. How could I be positive? Dada dada dada. I'm Justin B. Smith. How could I be positive? I'm an example."

I thought about my past behavior. [laughs] "I went out and I drank a lot and I used to do drugs -- cocaine being my drug of choice. I used to lead a very dangerous life, I guess.

For the Whole Interview

Go to this link