Is it true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?

Lisa Valtierra is the cross-cultural marketing director of a major pharmaceutical company where her work touches on both health disparities and representation. She previously worked with AIDS Service Organizations (ASO) as a patient advocate for women with HIV and other underrepresented communities. During that time, she saw conditions so dismal for underserved populations, it was easy to assume the larger industry would be no better.

Lisa has a passion for health care and for finding solutions that reduce health inequities and serve as many people as possible.  She lives in her hometown of Los Angeles with her cat, Princess Pixie Starburst the Assassin, and earned her degree in Communication Studies from UCLA.

In this episode, Lisa speaks about the moment she found out she was HIV positive. Lisa reveals what it was like to face her family, friends, and the absolute truth. Facing death, Lisa had the moment of ultimate awakening.

In 1991, Lisa got a call from the doctor’s office on a Saturday; the nurse is in tears. She tells Lisa that she is HIV positive. In 1991, HIV was a death sentence – there was one drug that wasn’t working. Lisa has never done drugs and never had a blood transfusion; she got HIV from an ex-boyfriend.

It would have been easier to let go. Lisa could have surrendered everything – she needed the will to live. There’s a difference between life and living. We can all simply lead a life, or we can choose to live that life—live life on our terms. Stay tuned for next week as Lisa picks up in the year 2000.

In This Episode:

  • About Lisa Valtierra [ 3:00 ]
  • 1991: Lisa got the call [ 08:00 ]
  • Navigating the judgment of HIV [ 19:30 ]
  • Sharing the news of HIV [ 23:00 ]
  • Feeling disconnected from our identity [ 29:45 ]
  • The drug options for HIV [ 33:45 ]
  • 1995: Asking for help [ 40:00 ]
  • Wishing for the will to live [ 54:30 ]
  • Finding strength within ourselves [ 57:10 ]
  • Getting on the right path to life [ 58:30 ]
  • Losing the ability to eat [ 66:45 ]
  • Finding a purpose and a path [ 70:40 ]

Quotes:

  • “With one phone call, my life was rolling down an abyss.”
  • “Hold compassion for people, regardless of what their path is.”
  • “The gay community saved my life.”
  • “The universe kicked me in the ass in so many ways.”
  • “I made a choice between existing and choosing to live.”

Links Mentioned: