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, November 26, 2012

AIDS Response Effort Article

Recently, a reader contacted me to ask permission to use my picture and story in an article that he wanted to write and post on his organization's website. I of course gave him permission to do so. Here is a link to the organization's website AIDS Response Effort. And here is a link directly to the article he wrote about me "Unprotected Oral Sex May Lead to HIV Positive Result".

There are also some interesting comments back to his article and my story. I guess his readers question my honesty and the truthfulness of my story. Some have also questioned how I could have become HIV+ within 17 days of the event, and that I must have been infected prior to that.

In response to these comments/questions, all I can say is:

1) I have always been honest about the events and my story from day one. I know what did and did not happen, and I have presented it to my readers in exact and honest detail. I have presented the details of the events, my sickness, the results, and the conclusions/opinions of my doctors, exactly as they happened. You may choose to believe it or not... but what you choose to believe does not change what happened.

2) I did not have HIV prior to the events I have described. I was tested before going to Africa and was negative. I became sick 17 days after the contracting event. I was sick with Acute HIV Infection or Acute Seroconversion. This happens between 2-4 weeks after infection with the virus. Please find information about Acute Infection here.

Please feel free to post any additional comments/questions here. Thanks!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Change In Medicine

Well, I finally got set up with a new doctor. I had my first appointment last week. It went well, and I think I will be happy with this doctor and office (except for the kind of long drive to get there).

I have been thinking about changing off of Atripla. I have been doing well on it and not experiencing any side effects...until I started teaching again and have to wake up and get to work so early in the morning. Some of the effects of Atripla are that it can make you drowsy and also give a nauseous/dizzy/drunk feeling. This is why it is recommended to take it at night, so that you sleep through most of the side effects. However, if you wake up early in the morning, it is possible for some people that these side effects have not completely worn off yet. So, for the past couple months, I have been feeling very tired and nauseous in the morning, and it really is not very pleasant to have to go to school and start teaching each morning while I feel like I'm about to puke. Anyways... my new doctor was also very interested in switching me off of Atripla for some other reasons... basically that it interferes with MANY birth control products, and is also not safe for a baby if I was to get pregnant. She was very adamant that she would have never started a female my age on Atripla to begin with.

So, with all that being said, I have now switched to a new medicine. It is called Stribild, and is a 4 in 1 combination pill. Here is some info about it if you are interested stribild.com. I still take one pill a day, and I am choosing to continue taking it at night (even though I could take it at any time of the day). I will now have to take it with dinner (as opposed to Atripla, which I had to take on an empty stomach before bed). So far, I do not think I have any side effects from it.

P.S. I will let you all know when I get my new lab results.