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.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Not There Yet...

I had a doctor's appointment last week. She called this morning with my lab results.

My Viral Load decreased from 700 to 180. Good. But not to undetectable yet...

My CD4 went from 450 to 343. Not Good. A little bit concerning. We'll see what happens next month...

P.S. My hair is falling out...


  1. Jessica, There are so many things that I feel for you. All those that people write to you about but as a parent and a parent of a Zambian Peace Corps Volunteer, I am most proud of all that you are that made you a PCV. You've taken a devastating unknown and moved forward, trying the best way you can to make it a positive situation, not an easy thing. God doesn't choose favorites, he doesn't want us to love him, he wants us to love each other. You are a perfect example of that love. Through all of the difficult times may you feel the love and caring of those you know and those you don't. Momma Lo

  2. Jessica! I am praying for you & your health, sweet friend. It's a long road ahead, and our bodies are complex. My hair continues to fall out at excessive rates as well. Know that you're not in this alone! love,

  3. Jessica,
    Keeping you in my prayers and hoping for better news next month.
    Is the hair loss a side effect from the medications? If so, which one?
    Stay strong!
    Warm regards & blessings.
    A Concerned reader, Mary

  4. To clarify on the hair falling out: 2 different doctor's opinions have now been the same thing- they think that it is most likely a result of the initial Acute illness, because I was so severely sick, and it caused such a stress to my body, and now it kind of needs to shed it off and regrow. They do not feel it is due to any of the medications. So, we just have to wait and hope for the best now...
    Thanks for your concerns and support!

    1. I am an RPCV from Kazakhstan and I had hair loss during and after my service. I didn't get sick often and my PCMO could never figure out why my hair was falling out. I admire your strengh and candor in sharing your story. Also to everyone out there- I was one of those PCV's that thought I would NEVER "hook-up" during my service yet I somehow ended up married to a HCN and we just celebrated our 2 year anniversary. I also work as a sexual assault advocate and I can testify that this can happen to anyone...did you know that about 1 in 8 men is sexually assaulted? (and not necessarily by another male)

  5. Yup, that's the same thing they told me in my case. I don't know about you (other than right before you parted from DC), but I practically didn't eat for about a month, and the PC doctors thought that malnutrition could be playing into the hair loss. My sweet friend gave me extensions, which I wear almost daily to fill out what has been lost. They say it's only temporary...

  6. Jess, we miss you. Take care of yourself and let your body get as strong as possible. Your blog is amazing, and has really touched so many of the PCV's still here. I'm so proud to have been in your group.

  7. Hi Jessica,

    I am an american expat, and have been living and working in Lusaka for over a year with an organization providing support with PMTCT services throughout southern province. Your blog reached me from a friend, and I have since shared it with multiple people here with me in Zambia - including all of our interns. You have such a strong story, and how you are chosing to deal with your misfortune is absolutely incredible. We are only human, and things happen even if you try to be the safest. I am so sorry you have to deal with this.

    I know multiple young people with HIV, and they have been living normal lives for over a decade with the help of ART, and will continue to do so for many more. I know I am not one to give advice, considering I am not in your shoes and I am not a doctor, but working closely with HIV/AIDS services, I have been exposed to a lot in this field. I have seen many infected persons become obsessed with their CD4 count, and it is definitely not EVERYTHING when it comes to assessing your current health status. I can only imagine the ups and downs you experience as you hear your Tcell count goes up and down, but I wish you all the strength and ability to relax some as it happens. You probably already know this :-)

    Anyway, I will continue to think of you and send you positive thoughts as you continue to move forward. Thank you for sharing all that you have.