There's an interesting piece on the importance of social networking for people living with HIV/AIDS in the current issue of HIV Plus Magazine. One of the cover models, Justin B. Terry-Smith is a longtime friend of loldarian.com. You may recall watching Justin's HIV Journal, a YouTube show launched by Terry-Smith that gives real insight into the life of a positive person. Cameras follow Justin to doctors visits and viewers get to witness the ups and downs of anti-retroviral medication.
“I looked around and I didn’t see any young African-American gay men reaching out online. No one else was doing this,” he tells HIV Plus.
From HIV Plus:
“What most people do when they’ve been diagnosed is to jump onto Google and start trying to find as much information as they can,” says Philadelphian Robert Breining about the role the Internet plays in most HIVers’ lives. “But people want more than all that medical information. They want to talk with someone like themselves -- who is feeling the same pain and experiencing the same feelings. So I started thinking, Wouldn’t it be great if there was a place like Facebook or MySpace for HIV-positive people where they could do all of that?”
In October 2007, Breining launched POZIAM, a free website where users post profiles and photos, send personalized notes, use online chat, create their own blogs, and access message boards.
But the relative anonymity of cyberspace also has a significant downside -- the ability for social media users, even onetime visitors to a site, to leave offensive public comments. That very situation almost derailed Terry-Smith’s online video blog, “Justin’s HIV Journal,” shortly after his very first entry.
“The first comment I got was horrible,” Terry-Smith recalls. “A guy basically said, ‘So you got poked by a dirty dick. So what?’ I almost took the video down because I thought those were the only kinds of comments I was going to get. But then, maybe two minutes later, I got a comment from someone who loved the blog and planned to keep following it. Then I got another comment like that, then another.”
Watch a PSA from Justin below: