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.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


So, my mom has commented that lately it seems as if HIV and AIDS is everywhere... when she flips open a magazine, or checks out the newspaper, or turns on the TV. It was something we never noticed before, but now that we have a personal connection to it, it keeps jumping out at us in the most random places. In addition to now noticing it, I also now have a different, or insider, perspective on it. With this in mind, I want to tell you about an episode of "Cops" that I saw earlier this week...

The situation goes like this... the cops hear that there has been a stabbing in an alley. They pull up to the scene and stop a woman who is walking away. The woman frantically admits that she is involved in the incident. The cops move towards her, she shouts, "I have a knife in my back pocket! It's all bloody! That man has AIDS!" The cops hesitate, and much more slowly and cautiously approach the woman, and the bloody knife in her back pocket (this woman was not violent nor was she the suspect- she apparently took the knife away from the suspect and ran away from the alley). One of the cops puts on gloves and carefully removes the knife, carries it hanging between his two fingertips, and lays it on a big piece of cardboard on the back of his car (apparently he doesn't want the car to get AIDS either lol j/k).

Then comes the fun part... the cops move toward the alley to find the wounded man, the man who "has AIDS". He is bloody and beaten on the ground (apparently he started out as the suspect, but then got his butt kicked by others). Now, it is common during a scene like this for backup cops to arrive, usually 2, or maybe 4. Well, next thing you see is at least 15 cops standing 4 to 5 feet away in a circle around this bloody guy (still lying on the street). The original cop is shouting over and over, "This man is HIV+! He may have AIDS! Be careful! Make sure you put gloves on!" More cops are arriving, and the original cop keeps warning them. However, NO ONE is yet moving towards the wounded man. I watch this whole circle of cops stand there, all wearing their gloves, yet none of them brave enough to step any closer. It seems as if the seconds just keep ticking by. Finally, some Fire Rescue men arrive and they move forward to attend to the man. The cops all cautiously take a step back.

I found myself laughing throughout this entire scene... not because it was funny, but because it was so shocking! I wish someone else was watching with me, so that they could tell me whether they viewed the scene in the same way as I did. Because, the way I saw it, these cops failed to act in a crisis situation and attend to a wounded person as quickly as they normally would have. In my opinion, they all stood back and hesitated longer than necessary simply because the man may have had AIDS.

Or maybe I'm just hyper-sensitive and over-reacting because I am HIV+? I don't know, I guess I'd just like to think that if I was laying wounded on the street somewhere that I would receive the same level (and promptness) of aid and assistance as anyone else, regardless of my status...

I would be interested to know, if any of my readers are police men or first responders of some sort, what kind of training do you receive for this type of situation? And, have you ever been forced to act in a similar situation?


  1. This not the same thing, but does tie in somewhat. A cousin of my mom's is a nurse and she jot jabbed with a needle used to take blood from an HIV+ man. When she went for her follow up blood tests she proudly said how the doctors woudl write on her test form that she was a nurse who may have been exposed from work. You know... so she wouldn't be treated, you know, like the people who get those kind of tests.
    Then I thought how shitty it is that even after working with HIV positive people she obviously looks down her nose at them. It must make her feel pretty fantastic that she works with people so immoral. What a saint. The saddest thing is that even the people supposed to be helping, even the people who are supposed to be informed and educated, that stigma still exists.
    With the cops it may just be ignorance, and obviously an area where education is needed. But in the case of a nurse who works with HIV patients... I seriously hope it is just a case of her being a stupid, heartless cow rather than this being the normal mindset.

  2. First responders are trained to treat EVERYONE the same- as if they are + for anything (HIV, hepatitis, etc...).

  3. Generally, all "responders" (police, EMTs, boyscouts) all get the training that was previously mentioned. You take the same precautions (as if the person is HIV+) for everyone and every scenario. So the cops more than likely have had the training, but faced with a real-life situation, fear seems to have taken over. In addition, "group behavior" played a huge role".