I am 27. White. A Female. And a former Peace Corps Volunteer. I am HIV Positive. This is my story of how a few months, a few people, and a few events in Zambia changed me and my life forever. This is the story of how I contracted HIV and brought my Peace Corps Journey to a crashing halt... and how I am working now to pick up and put back together the pieces of my life as a newly diagnosed person living with HIV. This was not the journey I had originally planned... my path has traumatically and dramatically changed... but it is the one I am on now. There is no going back. There is only forward. I welcome you to follow along with me as I attempt to explore this new life ahead of me, whether you are someone from the Peace Corps community, or someone living with HIV. I welcome your comments, questions, suggestions, and opinions. Let us go forward together. To start from the beginning, click here He Gave Me More Than A Bracelet.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

He Gave Me More Than A Bracelet. He Gave Me HIV.

I was sitting and cuddling with him on the couch. I admired his bracelet. He took it off and slipped it onto my wrist. I remember feeling special. I thought to myself, "How sweet. He likes me. He gave me his bracelet." Turns out that later that night he gave me something more than a bracelet... he gave me HIV...

The beginning...

After 7 months in country (serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer) I was already changing. The Peace Corps tends to do that to people. I had made new friends- both Americans and Zambians. I had gone through many ups and downs in the village and my workplace. I had learned the culture and the language. I had felt the homesickness and loneliness that only volunteers can know. And I had experienced the constant admiration and proposals from Zambian men. Those 7 months had been a challenge for sure, but overall I was enjoying my experience. I was enjoying my village, my work, my friends, and of course all of the extra romantic interest and flattery. And although I did not enter into my Peace Corps service actively seeking out a relationship, when a person is so far from home and living alone in a village that seems so far removed from everyone and everything else, companionship is something that becomes more and more desirable.

I met him while on a trip in the capital city. He was a friend of a friend of a friend. The first night that I met him, we all went out dancing together as a group. I spent the whole night dancing, talking, and eventually kissing with him. At the end of the night we exchanged phone numbers and went our separate ways.

In the following days, we texted and talked on the phone. He seemed like a pretty okay guy. He even paid me a surprise visit one evening where us volunteers were staying. We just sat and talked for about an hour. Later in the week, he invited me over to his place for dinner. I went to his apartment. He cooked for me. We watched TV. We cuddled. I slept over. I spent the whole night telling him NO and resisting the urge to have sex. In an attempt to calm and satisfy his desires and needs, I suggested, and later performed oral sex on him.

We talked the next day and he invited me over again. We picked up some food for dinner and then went back to his apartment. We laid and cuddled on the couch for a long time. He gave me his bracelet. We eventually made it into the bedroom again, and thus started another night of strained fooling around and NO's. I gave him oral sex again. But, as the night went on, and either my hormones or loneliness wore me down, I finally gave in. I said YES. We then had sex. We used condoms.

The next day I had some mixed feelings, but I didn't totally regret it. I thought, "You know what? Why can't I have sex with someone? Everyone else seems to be doing it. This isn't such a big deal. This doesn't make me a bad person." (I forgot to mention that this was and is the only time in my life that I've had casual sex with someone who I am not in a long term relationship with).

After I left town a day later, we kept in touch. We texted and chatted on the phone. He wanted me to be his girlfriend. I needed some time to think about it. I continued to wear his bracelet.

Fast forward to exactly 17 days later...

I was in my village. I got sick. We thought it was Malaria- all the symptoms seemed to fit. I was brought back into the capital city for medical care. They couldn't quite figure out what was wrong with me. It wasn't Malaria, and it kept getting worse.

Ironically, he came to visit me. He took me out for coffee and we sat and talked. He bought me juice and bananas. He was still a nice guy.

The next day my symptoms got more severe and I was hospitalized. In addition to many other tests, they did two separate HIV tests. It was just a precaution. Based on my sexual activities, no one thought it would be likely for me to get HIV. The tests both came back Negative.

They still didn't know what was wrong with me, so the next step was to medically evacuate me to South Africa. I was immediately hospitalized there, and additional tests were performed, including another HIV test. It came back Positive.

Two Negatives. One Positive. Test again, wait a day. Positive. Final confirmatory test, wait a day. Positive.

That was it. No going back. No chance of mistakes or false positives now.

I was shocked. The doctors were shocked. I had one evening of protected vaginal sex. We used condoms. The condoms didn't break. I had unprotected oral sex twice. I didn't have any known open sores or cuts in my mouth. But, somehow I had still contracted HIV.

68 comments:

  1. I admir you , your courage, your strength, your beauty,your faith,resilieney, your love your life. There is no shame.

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  2. Your outlook on this is so inspiring. Attitude is everything <3

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  3. i am with you, there are many of us. <3

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  4. I am not a HIV/AIDS,but i am a humanist artist working against Aids.Do not intercourse with strangers,especially this case children are the main victim,so I conducted myself educational awareness competitions in painting & quiz programs for children and youth in the way of poster exhibitions about hiv/aids since 1997 till now with out the help of others.More Info:venus arts and charity.blogspot.com,https//profiles.google.com/venusrajatvm,picasaweb.google.com/rajaramakrishnan

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  5. I admire your strength and courage to have come out in open like this... I am a coward unlike you and have kept my status private and limited to very few people... I also was shocked when I first got infected through my gf.. we never engaged in unprotected vaginal sex.. I have met many more people thereafter since 3 years of being positive who never engaged in so called risky behavior and ended up testing positive.. Good luck !! :)

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  6. You have such a powerful story. It's so great to hear you share it. The video they showed us in training about volunteers who contracted HIV during their service was not exactly powerful. This, was powerful.

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  7. Your courage and strength will be an inspiration for so many. thank you and blessings be upon you.

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  8. wow, you're a trooper! Thanks so much for sharing your story with the world - it takes much courage to do so. As an RPCV from Ethiopia, I can relate to your village life. I came home early from PC with a brain tumor and 2 surgeries later, I'm still truckin. Life is crazy sometimes, but all we can do is move forward. Hang in for the ride!

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  9. Jessica, Thank you so much for your courage & for sharing your story. I'm a Zambia RPCV from 04-07 and I also am friends with Elizabeth. I admire your courage & I look forward to following your journey through your blog.

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  10. Thank you for your story. As a volunteer who has been in similar situations, I value you speaking out. The PCV community is the first who needs to be educated about this--i found that judgement was most severe from people who I was serving with, and even those who had made similar mistakes themselves. Thank you also for educating people on the fact that HIV can be contracted via oral sex--numerous volunteers that i served with were unaware or misinformed about this, while i was misinformed about other aspects of HIV that put me at risk. I cannot thank you enough.

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  11. I have a similar story of infection in a foreign country - thank you for sharing and refusing to feed into stigma. Please know that you are not alone. The first year is rough, but I have come to believe that there is a reason we have this illness and also choose to work in the field of international service and development. May your journey deepen your commitment to service and fighting stigma.

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  12. Thank you for sharing this. I was a village PCV in West Africa and fell for those same feelings of loneliness. I had all of the same rules for myself you mention: no casual sex, no fraternization with host country nationals, etc., but one you're part of their community, it's so easy to bend the rules. I had sex with a condom with a man from my village two weeks before I insisted he get an HIV test. Oh how I count my blessings he tested clean. You should know you have 50 years of RPCVs supporting you.

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  13. Thanks for sharing your story and reminding me that life can change so dramatically so quickly. But it changes both ways. I also contracted a lifelong std (herpes) during my first sexual experience as a PCV and that really did suck, but in the nearly 20 years since life has thrown me some great gifts too which not for the path I was on I would not have had. I wish you all the best on your journey. On On!

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  14. As a RPCV from Cameroon '84-'86 your blog really affected me. Back then PC refused to do HIV testing as part of the COS physical (we asked), although we were later advised to get anonymous testing done. This was the very beginning of the AIDS epidemic and just about every volunteer I knew (anywhere in Africa at least) had some risk factor for turning up HIV positive, whether from medical treatment received in country or unprotected sex. My brother-in-law also had AIDS and died in 1995 just prior to the effective treatments now available.

    I sometimes wonder if any volunteers I knew but am out of contact with contracted AIDS. I'm pretty sure my best friend from my village and her boyfriend both contracted AIDS based on her letters to me describing her boyfriend's mysterious illnesses. I stopped hearing from her about three years after I COSed.


    Good luck to you. You seem like an amazing person and I'm sure life holds many good things for you. You have nothing to be ashamed of and I'm glad you are sharing your story.

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  15. I've had clients in my job as a counselor who have HIV, but no friends. I'm an RPCV

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  16. Thank you Jessica for sharing with us. You are an inspiration and I wish you luck on your forward journey.... and am looking forward to your future posts.

    Sending you light and love.

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  17. The support you receive through these comments is wonderful, but as a former PCV and staffer, I wonder what, if anything, you learned. Do you have any regrets? Did you make any mistakes you can tell others about? Do you have any advice for current and future PCVs? When you're older, what might you tell your daughter before she leaves for international service? Your wonderful candor can be complimented by a bit more introspection.

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  18. I admire your courage in writing this blog, and I think it is going to help a lot of people. I was a PCV in Central African Republic from 1987-89. It was a scary time, because as you explain in your post about the PC's history with HIV, 1987 was the first year they tested incoming volunteers - that's how relatively new and unknown AIDS was in the U.S. back then. I can still remember that I had already been accepted and then I got a phone call from the PC that a new policy had been instituted and that I had to get an AIDS test. We were told that like Zambia today, CAR then had a 20-25% AIDS infection rate. Really, considering the high infection rate in the countries a lot of us serve in, I think it's amazing that only 38 volunteers have contracted AIDS during PC service since 1987. I'm sorry you are one of them.

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  19. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I'm an RPCV also (Ecuador 09-11), I admire you for telling your story, I know it can't be easy. It probably doesn't feel like it now, but you're not alone. The RPCV community is a large one, and I'm sure there are many people in similar situations. Sending you positive vibes and good thoughts.

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  20. thank you very much for sharing your story. on a much smaller scale i also received a surprise from someone in the form of warts. you like me can look back and know that hindsight....and all that. i will be following you.

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  21. I am the mother of a daughter who spent 3 years in the Peace Corps. My heart goes out to you sweet lady. I think you are a very brave and wonderful young lady. I am sure it was not an easy decision to come forward with your story but my eyes well up with tears at how proud your parents must feel for how strong you are being. I would be just as proud of my daughter. She has had her own demons to fight but she is one of the bravest ladies I know....and now I know, or am aware of, another....you. GOD bless you.

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  22. As a current PCV- I had to sit through numbers medical sessions in which HIV- was a very heavily talked about/discussed subject. Of course the PC mentioned 'safe sex' methods and in every PC health manual they mentioned the risk of transmission through various sexual(including oral sex)/non-sexual activities(i.e. the sharing of needles). They even had us at one point demonstrate that we were able to put a condom on properly in one session I attended. I was just wondering did they have similar sessions when you were a volunteer especially when you were in a 'high risk' area for HIV infections? Could the PC in your opinion do anything else to inform individuals on HIV? (I'm a E.European PCV)

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  23. Thank you for sharing your story with us. You are very brave to be writing this blog, but I think it will be very helpful. You are correct that it is not talked about enough and people (US, PCVs, the world) are not educated enough esp. about contracting it through oral sex. My thoughts and prayers are with you. (PCV Dominican Republic)

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  24. Wow. What a story. I can't remember if I used oral in place of vaginal sex. I certainly had no idea of the risks - thought it was just hype and only risky if you had sores in your mouth or ulcers. I got fairly comfortable using condoms after almost 2 years of abstinence - same thought as you: why shouldn't I be having sex. I also had my only sex outside seriously relationships in Peace Corps. I now know not to count myself as smart and informed but lucky.

    Peace Corps training needs to hit the risks of oral sex home better. The old video just shows people who had unprotected sex and it's really outdated. You should think about helping them update the video!

    But for now, thank you so much for the blog. You are amazing. I am sorry for the stigma that makes your life hard in a way the physical disease probably doesn't even compare. Stay strong.

    RPCV Mozambique

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    1. I am also SO glad you are sharing the details of your story, so that people think about the risks of oral sex as well. And I agree that it would be amazing if you could lead/participate in an updated HIV/AIDS movie for Peace Corps, I just saw it at EIST and the topic deserves a re-do!

      -PCV Peru

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  25. I am really thankfull and appreciative of you. As a Peace Corps staff member never have I heard or watch videos of this magnitude, this is really touchy and can change alot of peoples attitudes, both volunteers and host nationals. We all have our share of risk that we take and when we realises that we did we always afraid to talk and help others. Your honesty is really amazing and you are a real humanists. You are out to save the world. I will follow you. Be strong,remember through your difficult moments that; somewere out there you saved a life..

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    1. Jessica, I agree you are changing the world and you saved probably more lives than you realize.

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  26. You are amazing... As a society the stigma of HIV/AIDS has to end in order for us to better protect ourselves. None of us are immune to the disease. I hope you are proud of the strength you are showing. Best wishes :)

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  27. Very inspiring. I have only read parts of your blog but I can already say you are a wonderful person and not a disease and the world needs voices like yours. I will keep visiting. You have one more friend who wishes you well.

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  28. Jessica, your story is truly inspiring. As a volunteer who also dated a host country national, you don't think of the risks at the time you do things. You are so strong to do this, publicize this and take away the stigma - just like what Peace Corps encourages us to do with HIV/AIDS while serving. I admire you and I wish you all the best.... stay strong (FORCA) and way to be the voice that so often fall silent.

    kind regards and abracos (hugs) RPCV Mozambique

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  29. Dear Jessica- I wanted to thank you for your courage and openness to share your story with the world. For many, including myself, your experience hits close to home. How many of us could tell this exact story of a night with a guy/girl. We've all been there, but with different outcomes. Not all would take your outcome and do the good you are doing with it. You are truly amazing and inspiring. I look forward to learning more, sharing this with others, and supporting you from afar.

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  30. Dear Jessica, thanks for sharing your life with us. I have been working with HIV/AIDS for 7 years and unfortunately there is still so much stigma and discrimination related to this disease. I admire and support your courage. Don't give up! You can contribute a lot to the world. Warm regards, Juliana

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  31. Hello Jessica, a friend who is with PC shared this blog with me. I currently am working in Africa for a health NGO focused on HIV and previously worked for an HIV biotech company. I want to say that your story, courage and honesty had a real emotional impact on me. I admire you for being so forthright about what you are dealing with and think it will really help people be even more careful about their sexual health. I wish you only the best with the treatment, am glad you have a strong support system around you and thank you for sharing what is a very personal story with all of us.

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  32. Thank you so much for sharing your story! Your bravery and honesty will help volunteers currently serving in PC and those at home as well! I have passed this on to the current PCVLs in Namibia in hopes that they can share your story at training.

    Thank you! My thoughts and prayers are with you!

    RPCV Namibia

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  33. I disagree. No disrespect, but as an RPCV you don't have any type of sex with Nationals. In Africa. Without a condom.

    As you sat there in the Medical training, did you think it didn't apply to you? When you use a condom to prevent STDs, do you think that doesn't include oral sex? When you were trained (as all PCVs are) on how to educate Nationals on HIV, did you think that only they should be aware?

    I am a huge proponent of casual sex, and partake occassionaly myself, but in my entire time in the Peace Corps, I did not have sex with someone that I did not know extremely well. There is loneliness. There is an increase in flattery from men. There is the need for human touch. I understand, I was there. When you sign up for the Peace Corps, you sign up for more than just 2 years of service. You sign up for living a life outside your own. For being more than just a 25 year old female. For being more educated and safe than those around you.

    My heart breaks for you. I cannot imagine difficult this is and will continue to be. My hope is that others learn that no one is invincible to HIV.

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    1. I dont think she needs to be preached to and even if u do mean offense Im personally taking it. Im a peace corps volunteer in madagascar and im gay. As most countries in Africa are madagascar is extremely conservative this makes it even harder to integrate into ur village. There is nothing that can prepare u for peace corps. With the combined pressure of being on antimalaria medicines (and birth control for women also) that make u go nuts,no one in ur village u can relate to or talk to,other PCVs being far away,Some of peace corps ridiculous rules about leaving site only for 2 days a month, change in diet, some times lack of a clear project or objectives , getting sick from food and depression and then some one u meet makes u feel good for just a second, being human u can have a slip. the longing for a bit of touch after months sometimes a year can be unbearable so please it does sound like ur judging just stop it

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    2. This type of judgement is exactly the kind of discrimination surrounding AIDS and HIV that needs to change. As a "huge proponent of casual sex" you should know that all of the precautions you suggest are imperfect ones, ones that will not assure protection 100% of the time from contracting HIV: condoms break and HIV tests come out with false negatives. I am sorry that Jessica has to live through this illness, but I am so glad that she is strong enough to work towards breaking the stigma of this disease. Thank you so much for sharing your private struggle.

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    3. I'm sorry but this is all a little ridiculous. You're educated enough in America to know what the risks are in Africa. I wouldn't do what you did with someone at LOW risk here. Maybe peace corps should have sent you to Atlanta to "train" you in how black men behave towards white women. Most black guys hit on 10x the number of women white guys hit on every single day. It's a pure numbers game, not that he's a "nice guy". Talk about naive.

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    4. You seem to have a very low opinion of Africans. You will be so surprised at how well informed of the disease most Africans are despite the number of PLWHA's being high. HIV does not discriminate against continent, country, skin color, age etc. Unless you are blindfolded, casual sex, assumptions that people you know well can't be having HIV and ignorance are a sure ticket to getting the virus. And for your insular and rather provincial reasoning remember you are not super human. HIV is no longer viewed with the moral microscope! Anyone can get HIV and if you are not infected you are affected. Wish you all the best Jessica.

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  34. To the above anonymous,

    I respect your opinion, however, your post made me doubt how well you listened during your own PST. By saying that "I did not have sex with someone that I did not know extremely well", are you insinuating that 'knowing' someone well means they are HIV negative?

    I think that this very issue is one of the greatest barriers to break in HIV prevention. Couples use condoms for the first few times, and then they get used to each other and 'trust' each other. They stop using condoms. They also believe what the other say, when it comes to their HIV status.

    Unfortunately, the threat of contracting HIV is present nearly everywhere in the world. Although it is counter intuitive not to 'trust' your partner regarding their HIV status, i believe your primary responsibility is protecting yourself.

    Since i truly admire Jessica's willingness to open up and share her experience in the hope that this will not happen to others, we should all make an effort to be more aware. You can never be 100% sure unless you never have sex, which, unfortunately is not a desirable option to many.

    Of course, use condoms and practice safe sex. Go get tested together, and then again after 3 months. Get educated and do whatever is in your power to minimize your chances of contracting the virus, and if you do anyways, know that its not the end of your life. I believe Jessica has demonstrated this so far through this blog.

    Thanks again for sharing Jessica. Keep writing!

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    1. I listened very well. That is why I did not have any of the "4 Fluids" enter my body when I had sex with a person, and why I got to know my partners better than a 5-day fling.

      Jessica admits she erred. You seem to think that a victim of a tragedy is purely by chance or luck. This isn't so. This was a series of mistakes.

      Where I am a little frustrated is that this will continue, ONCE AGAIN, to remain only on a blog, only on the internet. Having 500 anonymous people pat you on the back for being brave isn't enough. It's a missed opportunity to do more. At no point have I seen an action plan.

      I have read here that "Peace Corps didn't inform me well enough" but not "I will work to make sure that Volunteers in high-risk countries truly understand HIV."

      I read "I am not ashamed" but not "I will work for equality for members of the HIV community."

      I read "Peace Corps is lonely" but not "I will lobby the governmental institution of Peace Corps until some serious changes are made within the organization."

      I read "Everyone should get tested" but not "Here is a link to local testing location..."

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    2. The point is that getting to know your partners is NOT a surefire way to avoid HIV infection, especially if your partner is unfaithful, around the same time a condom breaks (which is the case in many HIV infections, both in Africa and in the US.] You can do everything right and still get infected.

      Furthermore, you imply that HIV is only a risk in Africa and that causal sex or unprotected sex is fine as long as it happens in the US or the developed world. And yes, HIV prevelence among non-drug using heterosexuals is extremely low. But as Jess so wisely pointed out, someone has to make up the low numbers. And there is a host of other STIs running rampat in the US, including HPV, which can cause cervical cancer and a host of other really fun cancers.

      No one who has ever had unprotected sex of any kind can judge Jess, no matter which country it happened in.

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  35. I am very impressed by your courage. As an RPCV, I definitely understand the feelings of loneliness and isolation that come along with service. I also understand that casual sex was almost the norm for the PCVs with whom I served. I think that its very common to understand oral sex as low risk. For all these reasons, anyone who would claim that your status is a result of a mistake on your part, rather than a medical fluke, is insensitive and uninformed. Yours is a story of bad luck and we are all very lucky that you have chosen to share your story. Thank you so much.

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  36. I am a recent RPCV from Kenya (3 year tour) and I wanted to say thank you so much for being so open about your experience.
    I am very impressed by your courage and bravery to share your story and I think that you are doing all current and future PCVs a great favor by sharing your experience. Thank you for sharing so openly.

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  37. Thanks for posting this. You're a brave woman and a good writer. I expect that much good will come from your posting it, both in the form of lessons for others and good things for you.
    David Sullivan
    RPCV Swaziland 1989-91

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  38. Does the person who gave you HIV know he is HIV +? Have you had contact with him? Did Peace Corps inform him?

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    1. He has claimed that he did not know.
      We were in contact for the first couple months, but have not communicated for the past 3 or so months.
      I informed him myself. Peace Corps was not involved.

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  39. Thank you for sharing your story. I was a PCV in Namibia. I know the loneliness and frustration. I am sorry this happened to you and I am glad to see you speaking out about this. It's important to discuss. All PCVs and potentional volunteers should know the dangers.

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  40. I'm an English girl, nothing to do with PCV, I just came across your site. I lived for a year in Italy, and while this was of course not as isolating and difficult as your time in Zambia must have been, I do to some extent understand the loneliness, alienation and need for reassurance and love that I sense in your story. What makes your story so incredibly moving and powerful is how terribly unlucky you were, and how close to home your experience is for all of us: we all take risks, some of us take far greater risks than you did, and it could have happened to anyone. When I try to imagine what you went through when you found out about your diagnosis, I can only get so far before I can't bear it. The simple fact that you are still here, still living and functioning in your life is hugely inspiring and far beyond what many could have managed in your position. My heart goes out to you, and yet it would be wrong to feel sorry for someone so admirable and courageous: there is something in you, a strength and spirit that has survived in spite of what must have been an awful, soul-crushing time. In a way, you seem to be living more and better than other people in more fortunate circumstances. It saddens me to see the (very few) negative comments on here: this is just not the time or place for criticism and preaching, you have paid a high enough price and should receive only sympathy and understanding from those of us who have had the fortune not to be affected by this disease. I'm sure every day is hard, and what you've been through is beyond what most of us have ever experienced, and there is only so much that words can do. But I have to reach out to you, even if you've heard comments like mine time and time again. Your story has deeply affected me and I will carry it with me for a long time. You're clearly a remarkable person, entirely undeserving of your awful luck (though of course I don't mean to say that anyone deserves it) and I'd be so proud to call you a friend/relative. I hope those close to you have given you the support and love that you fully deserve. Keep going, to me you are defined so much more by your courage and talent than by one awful, unfair incident of misfortune. Lots of love.

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  41. Hi!

    I admire your courage. From this day forward, I am your fan.

    I hope I want to share your story, to increase awareness in my country, I hope it's okay with you?

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  42. This is hard for me to believe because I have never heard of hiv being detected in 17 days, HIV takes about 3 to 6 months before it is detected. Were you tested before you went to Zambia? Were you having unprotected sex before you went to Zambia? Was the guy tested and if so did his results come back positive? I have a lot of questions because this in not making since to me. You need to research your sexual history before you blame this on that one guy. You are telling us you do not give it up easy so we are left to believe you are telling the truth, to be honest I am questioning that. I just say take care of yourself and you will be alright. I am not pointing fingers but research your past and get back at me.

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    1. You are so very wrong, my friend. About 90% of ELISA test (that's for the antibodies) are positive in 3 weeks. Western blot (for the virus itself) is positive in the "window period." The 6 month retest is a suggestion, because earlier studies were flawed and based on guesses of date of exposure by high risk patients. Please don't be insolent.

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    2. I agree with the response above. This is a very rude and uninformed set of comments to make. I suggest you do some more reading, both on this blog and elsewhere, before making such silly statements. It's quite strange that you would believe that someone in Jessica's position would be in any way confused or mistaken about what happened to her and why. She's done the research, (which you would know if you read more of her posts) and she's had plenty of time and motivation to think about exactly what led to her diagnosis. Somehow I doubt she's wrong and you're right.

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    3. "I have never heard of hiv being detected in 17 days, HIV takes about 3 to 6 months before it is detected".

      Where did you get this info? from a 1985 source?

      HIV can be detected from 10 days from infection with viral load assays (PCR RNA tests). Seroconversion goes USUALLY from 2 to 4 weeks post exposure, that means someone might test positive at 2 weeks with normal antibody testing. Some others will test positive later. That's why the rule is to test everyone at +3 months post exposure to be sure that infection has been reliable excluded.

      Jessica was diagnosed early which is great, because with treatment she will be able to keep the virus at bay and live a healthy life. Wish her all the best.

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  43. The primary symptoms of HIV infection often emerge about 14-21 days after the initial infection. Antibodies will be created in response to that infection following the primary symptoms. Modern tests can detect these antibodies very soon after that. This lady's story is entirely consistent with this: she tested negative soon after the primary symptoms started (ie while the virus was reproducing wildly in the body) and tested positive after that (once antibodies started to be produced against it).

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  44. I had not read it before - but I think this link explains the situation very clearly:

    http://nogoingback-thereisonlyforward.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/note-about-acute-hiv-infection.html

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  45. Hello! What's your opinion on who are your average readers?

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  46. Thank you for starting this blog!

    I was a volunteer in South America a few years back and met a guy after some months. We had unprotected sex after basically confiding in each other that we had no disease. That was so naive and I got paranoid afterwards. Thankfully I did not contract HIV but I was terrified for the 12 weeks wait before my conclusive test results.

    I think this happens a lot so that is why you blog is extremely important in educating.

    THANKS JESSICA, YOU ROCK!

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  47. hi..i have been on the other side of the experience and i have always used condoms and i go out sometimes..but i have always assumed oral sex was safe when you are on art..am a male 32. Now i need someone who can help me understand better..and am positive

    ReplyDelete
  48. I know this is specific to ask but did semen get inside your mouth? Did he ejaculate inside your mouth? I'm just curious. Also, I find your strength and spirit to be so inspiring and I hope you are able to positively affect the HIV/AIDS community with it.

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  49. Thanks for sharing this with the world. Some people, specially moderators at medhelp.org neglect oral sex as a possibility for HIV transmission (an example is this thread: http://www.medhelp.org/posts/HIV-Prevention/Oral-sex-with-a-confirmed-HIV-poz-person/show/1998709). The user dares to say "No, HIV is not transmitted by oral sex", as if he was talking about shaking hands or hugging.

    I hope people read your testimony and remember that although it seems the risk of oral sex is "low" compared to other activities, such risk is not zero.

    Wish you all the best.

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  50. You got what you deserve for your immoral actions!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are ignorant and better hope nothing similar ever happens to you or someone you love.

      Delete
    2. Horrible person. ^^^^^^^^^^

      Delete
  51. I do not understand WHY people think using a condom means you are not going to contact HIV and WHY in the WORLD you would THINK having unprotected oral sex would NOT put you at risk! This is what you need to be talking about everyday. Fuck your Meds empower girls and tell everyone I got HIV FROM GIVING HEAD. Men never want oral sex without a condom and 99% of us give it to them without one, they get ALL the pleasure and we get exposed to ALL Kinds of SHIT!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. * correction
      Men never want oral sex with a condom!

      Delete
  52. Some stories really just bring you to a certain kind of reality. This is one of them. Well
    done on posting, you are filled with courage. Re posted for all who follow my page, what an educational brave story! Stay strong :) https://www.facebook.com/pages/Life-Inspired/547412575307267?ref=hl

    ReplyDelete
  53. Hi I am had a question. Could you please email me at adnankattan2000@gmail.com
    I need to ask you a HIV related question, when you mention oral was it the pre cum that infected you or the ejaculation? I heard ejaulation is far riskier then oral.
    Thanks
    please email me the answer, I would really appreciate your time and efforts

    ReplyDelete