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7 comments | Thursday, July 09, 2009

"When I came out of the closet I didn’t think I would have to do it again, especially at work."- Justin Smith

According to a 2005 Center for Disease Control (CDC) study researchers found that gay and bisexual black men were more than twice as likely to be infected with HIV as other racial and ethnic groups, and were much less likely to be aware of their HIV infection. Countless theories exist as to why the infection rates paired with the silence surrounding the disease exists in the black community, but there is a handful of activists and people living with HIV who refuse to be silent while hundreds of new infections are occurring each day.

Justin Smith is one of those activists and he recently disclosed his status in one of the most unlikeliest of places-his workplace.

Smith tells loldarian.com the reason he decided to disclose his HIV status to his boss was his need to snack throughout the day.

"People who have HIV need to have more nutrients in there daily life than people who are HIV negative", says Smith.

"The way I usually do this is through pills and food. I do both because I want to stay at the top of my game and stay healthy. I try to drink Ensure as well to help with maintaining my weight", he added.

Smith thought his decision to disclose something so intensely personal at work would be met with respect and adulation and posted his decision to his Facebook page changing his status to read, “Justin B Smith just disclosed his HIV status to his Boss”. His boss took the news well but the reaction of his friends were mixed.

One friend asked, "Why do you have to wear your HIV status on your sleeve"? Smith's response: Why should I have to keep my status a secret? The more we talk about HIV/AIDS the better off our community will be.

By using YouTube to share his story of living with HIV with the masses Smith is always talking about it. Watch Justin Smith explain his decision to disclose at work for himself in the video below. Would you have the courage to do the same?


<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

this justin dude got more courage than the lion

i haven't even been able to tell ANY of my friends OR family since bein diagnosed...

kinda sad, i kno. but, i jus think i can deal wit it better on my own...can't none of my "hiv negative" friends relate to how i'm feelin most days

July 09, 2009 5:06 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I follow Justin Smith on YouTube and let me tell you. One of the bravest guys I know. U cant help but smile and be courageous right along with him when he talks about having HIV and going to get his meds. He didn't give up on life. He instead EMBRACED IT HEAD ON. Thanks for the Post Darian.

July 09, 2009 6:44 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

all i can say is there is nothing like living a life where no one can have something over your head to try and break you down because people will try it in a second sadly that includes so called family sometimes.i thank god everyday for his healing of my hiv but keeping me humbled at the same time never forgetting the doors that was slammed in my face although each slammed door made me the strong brotha i am and will always be

July 10, 2009 12:48 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I have to hand it to Justin but for myself, only a handful of friends and most of my family knows. I really don't see the need for colleagues who are just that,colleagues, know something so personal about me. The people who will support me is who I'd rather disclose to. It is still taboo and a lot of people do not understand what a person with HIV goes through in a day..but he is a TRAILBLAZER!!..and I hope one day I can be as fearless about my disclosure. I just hate to think that he will be known for his HIV first...

July 10, 2009 1:54 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Great story! I've been thinking about disclosing my status myself as I've had to take more than a few days off for health concerns and doctors visits. I've been weighing my options and will decide soon. Thanks for this story Darian!

July 10, 2009 8:50 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Justin, Although it's a personal decision to disclose your medical information to management it's your personal choice. When I worked in corporate america management could not have access to your medical records without a court order.

If the purpose was to be able to comply with your medical condition you did not have to specify to management, a simply letter from your doctor was all that was needed.

Now if you are one of those people who believes in making a statement about HIV an publically announce that you are HIV+ that's your prerogative. It holds the same for Gay/SGL people who are in the closet. It is a personal choice for some to stay in the closet while it is a political statement for others to come out. Still there are others who need to be freed from all the lies and deceit among family and friends to come out.

I look at anyone who discloses any medical information to their company that cannot be release to anyone in America even in any legal investigation from any law enforcement entity without a court order as a personal choice.

None of us have the right to tell you how you should govern your life and neither to you. There is no right or wrong to your decision to disclose as it is none to not disclose or have to talk about it. In my opinion I think you should respect your co-worker's friend's decision as she is respecting yours.

July 12, 2009 12:04 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...


1 in 4 sexually active teenagers become infected with an STD every year, in the United States alone. Now, more than ever, we need to join together to fight this growing issue. As I read through your website, it is clear that you share the same passion for STD/STI awareness. We here, at Disease.com, understand the importance of STD/STI prevention and treatments. If you could, please list us as a resource or host our social book mark button, it would be much appreciated. We can not reach every teenager, but together we can try.
If you need more information please mail me with the subject line as your URL.

Thnak You,
Sharon Vegoe

December 09, 2009 2:04 PM


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