Hi! I’m Josh. This is me.
So, I’ll go ahead and tell you that I just 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 disorder that continues to plague our society in both 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 a 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 guys my age to maybe find a piece of hope through my experiences to prevent the result that was read to me being given to them OR if you got a POZ result– realizing it’s only the beginning on a new world for you.
I’m still Josh. You still be YOU! xo
“Positive viral load” was never something Josh believed he would ever hear as the result of his HIV tests, many of them since he became involved with the study in 2011. In reality, Josh had never even been told he by someone that they were living with HIV. But, that all changed on Jan. 24, 2012, when after initial symptoms of primary infection, Josh pieced together the cause– that brief moment of judgement with someone who unknowingly was living with HIV that took place on the evening of December 11, 2011. Josh was more than someone who was involved in many levels of the HIV awareness, fundraising and vaccine study volunteering, Josh was now HIV-positive. And this moment is one that can be heard forever, as Josh recorded the moment in his life where everything seemed to stop– and then he released it on YouTube. Unknowing at the time, but it is considered the first and only actual recorded-live, video of someone actually learning they would be living with HIV. And now, with over 50k views on his channel, Josh continues to write a personal blog, imstilljosh.com, where he share his personal and sometimes, unique, journey with HIV. The blog has allowed Josh, who was lonely at one time in his journey, to literally meet and hear stories from hundreds in the world. And one thing he had discovered, is that “encouragement” early (much like the thought of ARV treatment by some) is the best way to turn someone recently infected from a statistic of whether they would start, stay and maintain treatment or 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 the community. With this powerful coming of age per se, Josh is attempting to fill some of the very big hole in the process by being a face of comfort and encouragement for these individuals. Currently, Josh is attempting to build the biggest digital encouragement wall for newly infected individuals with quotes from influencers of all types. A few of the influencers he has already received quotes from include: 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 Josh, 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 Josh became the most visual HVTN 505 participant to respond to media’s attempt at showing the stoppage as a failure. Josh quickly went on record with his encouraging-style, making sure the vaccine stoppage was referred to as merely a “finding” on a journey to a preventive vaccine and eventual cure.