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, October 21, 2013

Update on Online Dating

Written on 10/18/13
If you remember, I decided back in August to "come out" to my kickball friends and also to the online dating world. Immediately after deciding this, I added a paragraph to my online dating profile stating:

I spent a year living and working in a village in Zambia, Africa, with the Peace Corps. I have always had a drive for helping those in need. While I was serving in Zambia, I contracted HIV. I have now been HIV+ for 2 years. I am extremely healthy, on medication, maintain an Undetectable Viral Load, and have a high CD4 count. HIV is a part of me, but it does not define me. If you are willing to be open and accepting of this, or are interested in learning more about it, please message me. If you would like to read my story, just google "No Going Back. There Is Only Forward".

So... what have the reactions been? Overall, I think I have received fewer messages (although I don't know for sure). The messages that I have received are the typical short/vague "Hi, hello, you are cute, i like your profile" type things and NONE of them have mentioned HIV... making it unclear as to whether or not they actually read my profile.

So has my decision to openly expose my secret been detrimental or beneficial? So far, the jury is still out... it has not made a difference either way...

Update: 10/21/13
I have been messaging with a guy that has definitely read all of my profile. We have discussed my time in Africa briefly, although not the HIV specifically. Apparently he seems to be okay with it if he contacted me and is taking the time to talk with me though.

Another guy was apparently upset by my not responding to him and he told me that I need to get more serious and make it obvious I am looking for a man "especially because of my situation", and there are many good men who will care less about what I got and more about how good a person you are- if I am real and straight and not playing games.
I don't think I'll be responding, as I don't really need/want to hear anything involving "especially because of your situation".

A third guy sent me a message letting me know that he read my profile and has the utmost respect for me and would be honored to get to know me.

***Interesting side note: All of the above men are black, and at least two of them are from Africa or have parents/family from Africa.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Difficult Goodbye

I know that I posted back in August that I stopped dating my kickball guy. In reality, the "friendship" continued on long after that, in an up and down, back and forth sort of way. No matter how much I tried to control my emotions and not get too attached to something that I knew was not defined or committed, I of course was not always strong enough to do so. I valued our friendship and time together too much, so I tried to stick around and wait it out, trying to see if things would somehow eventually work out. Earlier this week, I finally decided that enough was enough. I admitted to myself that to remain in the pattern we were in would just lead to more insanity and heartbreak. I had to force myself to let it go. It was hard and it was painful, but I forced myself to say goodbye to him and our friendship. I've had some rough days since then, but I just need to stick to it, and I'm sure it will get easier with time.