Josh Robbins received the news on Jan. 24, 2012, that would change the course of his life permanently. On that day, Robbins found out he was HIV+.
He captured the moments leading up to, during, and just after receiving the results and placed the video on YouTube titled, “I'm HIV Positive I just found out I'm HIV-positive ... now what?” It is one of the extremely few, if not only, videos showing the moment that a doctor informs a patient that they are now HIV-positive. That was the day that changed everything.
Except ... not really. Robbins found himself looking in the mirror soon after getting the news and realizing, “I’m still me. I’m still Josh.” Having been newly diagnosed, he found himself alone, not really knowing anyone who was HIV-positive.
It was then the idea for a blog began to take root, but it was when he informed the partner who had infected him that the idea for a platform to fight the stigma of HIV-positive infection really began to blossom into a life’s work. “There was a moment in the call when I broke,” he said. “I’m telling this guy what has happened, and letting him know he needs to get tested, and he says, ‘You mean I have to live for the rest of my life knowing that I infected someone with HIV?’ Suddenly I find myself being strong for him, and trying to be uplifting and encouraging.”
In a blog post exclusively presented by Out and About Newspaper, the gentleman who was the source of his infection spoke out about the guilt and the whirl of emotions he had faced. For his part, Robbins doesn’t harbor any ill-will or blame. “It takes two to tango,” he said. “There could be no blame. There was equal responsibility from both partners.”
He started the blog with two main goals in mind: 1. To call out the ‘HIV-positive Stigma’ and fight the stigma of living with HIV-positive by talking about it, by being open and honest about things. 2. To encourage newly-diagnosed men. “This is about compassion and grace, not judgment,” he said.
One year later, imstilljosh.com is a blog that has touched the lives of people all over the world. Recently, Robbins received a thank-you note from a man living with HIV-positive in a part of the world where simply having the virus makes you a criminal, and subject to penalty.
One person contacted him just to say they had found the blog the day after their diagnosis, and had been contemplating suicide until realizing, “I’m still me.”
One year later, he has learned that he sincerely underestimated humanity. “I was bracing for the end of the world. It didn’t come.”
One year later, he has learned the power of one person’s voice. “When someone chooses to share something so intimate, it is a hugely powerful thing.”
One year later, he has now met quite a few HIV-positive men and women. They are some of the strongest, most “weathered” people he has ever met.
One year later, he is still Josh.