I am 28. 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


A poem I wrote during the first weeks after diagnosis...

Is this my punishment?
For all of my judgment?
For all those years
that I looked at girls,
thinking, "Gosh, what sluts."
How can they always sleep around?
A constant rotation of hook-ups and going outs.

I'm better than that.
I'm not promiscuous.
I've only had 2 boyfriends ever-
Okay, let me add 1 more and make it 3.
But look!
Now it's me that has HIV.

I listened to their stories and banter,
listing different guys each night of the week...
"I even did one in the back of a canter!"
I silently scoff and roll my eyes.
Thinking, "These girls are gonna get sick."
But No...
It's me that HIV picked.

I hear them admit that they're not always safe.
I think, "Gosh, how could they?"
But I sure hope they'll be okay.
Later on, I use my condoms.
I'm smarter than them.
I'm safe.
But Wait...
something goes wrong
and somehow it's me that has the + test come along.

How? Why?
There's no clear answers.
Only that...
This must be my Punishment.
For all of my Judgment.


  1. HI JESS Thought of you all weekend.Your strength is amazing.You got that from your Mom.Your poem should be published its the most REAL thing that I have ever read.Anything Troy or I can do for you let us know.Please keep us posted.LOVE AND STAY STRONG!!LOVE YOU Nicole Champagne

  2. Jessica,

    You are one brave woman!
    Through this blog you are teaching many and probably saving lives. This is not your punishment, nobody deserves being HIV+. We have all judged and at one point learned that judging is easy, understanding is difficult...it is an ongoing battle to just stop judging, we are all on that boat.
    Because you are stronger than most, you are moving forward and dealing with this sickness in the most constructive way. We all thank you for that. This is not your punishment but being an advocate for HIV+ people being judged everyday may be your call.

  3. I find myself wondering why things like this happen to good people, to people who seem to lead healthy lives. But I do not believe it is a punishment, nor does this make you less intelligent. We are all humans and capable of making mistakes. Perhaps it happen to you because you are a good person, because you have the intelligence and strength to do something positive with your diagnosis. Stay Strong. Peace

  4. Your story really breaks my heart. And this poem makes me cry. Because it feels so familiar... I woudn't think soemthing like this could happen to me, because I've always been a "good girl." But it can. It can happen to any of us, it's a reminder that no one is immune from tragedy even when we have tried to do things right. Thank you for telling your story. I don't belive it's punishment. I really don't know what it is. But I hope you keep finding comfort and the desire to keep living life as best as possible. I cannot afford to think that this is someones else's problem anymore. Because it could very well be me or someone that I love. So I thank you for reminding me to be aware - always.

  5. Dear Jessica,

    The way I see it, this is not a punishment for judging others: we all do it, we all judge. Yet we are dealt different life cards. Rather, in my opinion, you were chosen to fulfill an important mission which no other person than you could fulfill. You are regularly educating coutless men and women about your experience with HIV and for that I thank you.

  6. Perhaps that's part of the problem, that HIV is somehow a punishment. It's not. It's something that happens because as humans grow every day, so to do animals, and viruses, and other organisms. Punishments are what us humans create in our heads and attribute to ourselves and others. Magic Johnson openly came out about his HIV and for so many years he continued living his life. Open and honest, guilt free. HIV is something that affects some people just like acne, or diabetes, or paralysis. Life still goes on and as long as you're still living, breathing, learning and feeling, you are still blessed.

  7. Touching story.looking at that bracelet,colors show it all ,that she was given by one of these dread hair guys. hope this post ill not discourage other peace corps to come to Zambia.so many good Zambian guys and gals look forward to date a white guy or gal.sad part is when these ba bazungus(whites) come to Zambia or Africa,they think most Africans are beggars.white gals when guys approach them just for a talk they think one is after asking for money.yes a lot of street kids ask for money.rare cases where one will find a white gal or guy hanging out with descent Zambian guys or gals.few do find descent black Zambian gals.i dont understand why so many white guys who come Zambia date finished gals prostitutes,maybe descent ones are always at home, busy working or schooling,( mind not all white men, there those who come to evangelize or minister word of God,those are different) lets talk about white gals who come to Zambia.so many Zambian descent guys look forward to date a white a gal even for 2 months for them its a dream.but what do we see,a descent guy approach a white gal all she ill think ohohoh a beggar has come or a thief.she ill choose to hang out with a dreaded guy,most of these dreaded guys few are in formal employment.all they do is painting,sculpturing,moving up and down,looking for painting jobs,making hand crafts,sculpturing etc they meet alot of people,they ve got time to socialize hence,HIV is at their door step.we know any one can be infected,but some are at higher risk of being infected coz of the nature of their jobs.e.g truck driver,,journalists, frequent club goers etc.even descent guys do go clubbing but they are not frequent goers. in short those who move up nd down.White Gals and guys when you visit Zambia try to hang out with descent good,humble Zambians gals and gals u wont die,u ill learn more,be it from the compound or low residential areas good gals and guys are always.Zambian guys even when they are suffering be it from the compound or high class area they fight for love,they don't beg from gals be it white, colored or black gal ,guys always look forward to gve something to the gal ,appreciation for that love,when you notice.one is busy toking of her or his problem of life,dont waste time cut friendship,u loose nothing so many descent working or schooling gals who ill not complain of life even when they are struggling,equally u white gals you notice a guy is busy complaining about life ,cut friendship you loose nothing so many guys struggling in life they dont ve time to complain they keep on moving tho struggling.try to interact on social networks ,such like eskimi.tagged,badoo,etc,not dating site .search for zambia on thses sites,u ill make a lot of friends,avoid west Africans on social sites,much beta to find friends before you alive in Zambia,you ill be able to know more about Zambian love life nd life in general as u ill be interacting with so many at a time sites.you wanna be a friends you re welcome.search for samature on Google or those sites i ve mention.u ill find me we kip toking ,life is a journey