ABOUT THIS HIV BLOG “I’m Still Josh”
Hi! I’m Josh. This is me.
So, I’ll go ahead and tell you that I learned on Jan. 24, 2012 that I am HIV positive. You know… that big, bad disease that most of us don’t talk that much about? Yea… that one. The immune CONDITION that continues to plague our society in health, spirit, and image. But that is just part of my story. It’s just part of how and why I got here today. I decided to make an HIV blog because my circumstance of being newly poz isn’t my death sentence, it isn’t even close to what defines ME as Josh, and I want people both positive and negative to find a piece of hope through my experiences: to prevent the result that was read to me from being given to them OR if it was a POZ result– realizing it’s only the beginning on a new world.
“I’m still Josh. You still be YOU! ” – Josh Robbins
“Positive viral load” was never something I believed I would ever hear as the result of my HIV tests, many of them since I became involved with the study, HVTN 505, in 2011. In reality, I had never even been told by anyone that they were living with HIV. But, that all changed on Jan. 24, 2012, when after initial symptoms of primary infection, I pieced together the cause for this result– that a brief moment of judgement with someone who unknowingly was living with HIV that took place on the evening of December 11, 2011. I was more than someone who was involved in many levels of the HIV awareness, fundraising, and vaccine study volunteering, I was HIV-positive. And this moment is one that can be heard forever, as I recorded live the moment in my life where everything seemed to stop– and then I released it on YouTube. Unknowing at the time, but it is considered the first and only actual recorded-live, video of someone learning they would be living with HIV, on YouTube and possibly the Internet. And now, with over 1.4 million views on my Youtube channel, I continue to write a personal blog, imstilljosh.com, where I share my personal and sometimes unique journey with HIV, as well as some buzzworthy HIV news and opinion articles– many that scoop national news. This HIV online publication has allowed me, who was lonely at one time in my journey, to literally meet and hear stories from hundreds in the world. And one thing I have discovered is that “encouragement” early (much like the thought of starting ARV treatment early by some) is the best way to turn someone recently infected from a statistic of whether they will start, stay on, and maintain treatment or if they will also become a powerful, vocal, and ambitious advocate willing to be vocal against stigma, a resource for others and a impetus for the prevention of others from a very real and associated new face of the virus in their community. With this powerful coming of age per se, I am attempting to fill some of the very big hole in the the conversation led by powerful activists by being a meaningful face of comfort and encouragement for these individuals. Currently, I’m attempting to build the biggest digital encouragement wall for newly infected individuals with quotes from influencers of all types. A few of the influencers already quoted: Huffington Post Gay Voices Editor, Healthline.com editor, CMT Host Katie Cook, and Reality Star and Personality Kortney Wilson. But the biggest support will come from individuals similar to me, as the wall will soon launch an full-image-editor tool on the page to allow visitors to become contributors to the encouragement wall instantly. Imstilljosh.com has received mentions and reposts of his articles from: TheBody, Healthline, HuffPOSTLive, among many others– most recently the Associated Press, when I became the most visible HVTN 505 participant to respond to media’s attempt at showing the stoppage as a failure. I quickly went on record with my encouraging-style, making sure the vaccine stoppage was referred to as merely a “finding” on a journey to a preventive vaccine and hopefully an eventual cure. Also, check out the LGBT PrEP Truvada Guide for HIV Prevention.
I’m far from perfect and sometimes I get stuck on the small details instead of the larger picture, but this is a journey for me. Hope you enjoy something or feel free to contribute!