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+TALK: LYNETTE TRAWICK

Find out how faith plays a role in her #HIV healing…Lynette Trawick sits with Karl to discuss living with HIV, faith and family.

Transcript below.

LYNETTE
And I always talk about the difference between being cured versus being healed.

KARL
Hello there. Welcome to +Talk on +Life. where we’re all about turning positive into a plus. Today I’m joined by Lynette Trawick. Hi, Lynette. How are you?

LYNETTE
I am fantastic. How are you?

KARL
I’m all the better for seeing you, I’ve gotta say. As I read through the notes and the research on you, you are a very busy woman when it comes to advocacy and helping people understand what it means to live with HIV in this day and age. When did that all start for you?

LYNETTE
It’s Just something that kind of happened over time. As I started sharing my story with a little bit of people, I got the support that I needed, and here I am. It kind of grew into who I am today.

KARL
Yeah, and I know that faith is incredibly important to you, and faith and HIV are not two things we often sort of put in the same basket. But there’s such a contradiction, isn’t there? Because our churches and our ministers and our wherever are telling us that we’ve done something horrific, and this is God’s way of punishing us. So how do you sort of, how do you balance that?

LYNETTE
Yeah, that’s good. That’s a really good question. So I’ve actually had the experience of being in a church, actually, not long after I was diagnosed, where the pastor did have their viewpoint. Or he equated HIV with either premarital sex or being gay. And all of those things in his head was a sin. So I had the pleasure of actually educating him. I came to him and I shared my story with him. And it really opened his eyes, and gave him a new perspective of, okay this is a whole person. This isn’t just this one thing. And that’s the thing that I try to emphasize, especially in churches, especially in a place where we talk about healing. And I always talk about the difference between being cured versus being healed. While I may not be cured right now, I’m healed because my faith tells me that I’m healed.

KARL
I love that. So tell me then about I Am U, Incorporated, because this is quite a unique program that you are the executive director of. And it really sort of has quite a niche in a good way, doesn’t it?

LYNETTE
Yes, it does. I Am U, that’s my baby.

KARL
Don’t tell your children that.

LYNETTE
Yes. They know. But I Am U, yes. I Am U has transformed in so many different ways over the years. I knew that I wanted to again serve people in just a different capacity. I knew I wanted a nonprofit. And I knew I wanted to help specifically cisgender women, women living with HIV. And I wanted to specifically help that demographic because that’s who I am. I am a cisgender heterosexual woman living with HIV. And when I was diagnosed at 26, I did not see anyone else that looked like me who was speaking out. I’m not saying there weren’t any of them out there, but again, in 2008, social media also wasn’t a big thing. So you kind of had to go digging and searching for someone. So I knew that’s who I wanted to help. I knew I wanted to help families and the children impacted by HIV, and different things like that. So I Am U, that’s, that’s our focus, serving women who are living with HIV, and those who love them, those who support them. So we do training programs for, we do training programs, excuse me, we do training programs for corporate organizations. So that’s another aspect. If I’m here working in this organization from 9 to 5, and I need to come to you to tell you that I have to go to the doctor every so often, but I don’t have PTO or anything like that, how do you as an an employer support that woman that’s living with HIV so she can support her family? So just very unique things. We have storytelling workshops. How do you share your story if that’s something that you wanna do. Just sisterhood groups, because as a woman living with HIV, that’s not all there is to me; there’s so many other parts to me as a woman living with HIV. So let’s talk about: “Oh my goodness, the kids are getting on my nerves. Oh my goodness, what did my husband do?” Oh, let’s talk about: “Hey, you want a glass of wine?” Different things like that. So just that sisterhood, bringing women together to just talk about all of the things that make up that woman, and not just HIV.

KARL
If people want to find this organization, what’s the best way to go about it so that they can get involved in that?

LYNETTE
Yes, there’s two different ways. So the main way is of course on our website, http://www.iamuinc.org. So it’s just the letters I, A, M and the letter U, Inc., inc.org. That’s the main way. And from there you can connect to us through social media. We have a Contact Us page as well. So so many ways just from that website.

KARL
Now, you mentioned social media there, and you’re quite vocal on social media, which I love. Tell us about this reaction that you get from other people, folks who slide into your DMs who might not understand much about HIV, the fact that you are in a serodiscordant couple. Your husband is HIV-negative. you have quite a few children, and we’ll get to that in a minute. But what are the kind of messages you get and that you like to speak out about on your social?

LYNETTE
Yeah, so the messages that I get most often is thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s really helped me kind of move forward. Your story helped give me hope, especially me being in a serodiscordant relationship. I’ve been married now going on nine years on New Year’s Day. So things like that. It’s like, “Wow, I never thought that I would ever be able to be in a relationship.” So those are the kind of messages that I often get from people. And I actually also get a lot of messages from women from Africa. Now, that’s the most intriguing conversations that I have, but also some of the most complicated conversations, just because the culture is so different, medically, and just the culture in general. They may ask certain questions. I’ll give them an answer in a certain way, and they’re like, “Well, that’s not what my doctor said.” But it’s like, “Okay, please follow your doctor’s orders.”

I’m not a doctor.

I am not bigger than what your doctor is saying. This is just what I do here because we just do things differently. But just those conversations have been so enriching to me in the past, realizing how different we are but how much alike we are as well.

KARL
You started the hashtag #MedicationMotivation. Talk to me about that briefly. And was that because maybe you needed motivating in your medication regime? Or was it just something you were getting DMs from people going: “How do I adhere to it?” And I’m getting tired of it. And every day I take it, it reminds me of my HIV.”

LYNETTE
Everything you just said just now was exactly the reason why I started it. Medication, and I have the wristband on right now too. Medication Motivation was started because I needed that motivation to take my medicine every day. I was struggling with my medication. That medication every day was that reminder of this is why I’m taking this medicine, this is how I contracted HIV, just going backward. That’s how it was for a while for me. But then it became like, it was no longer a reminder because I had kind of worked through some of that stuff. But then it was more so I don’t wanna have to take this pill. I hate medicine. Like even when I have a headache, I will lay there. Let me just take a nap. I’ll get over it. But when it came to that medicine, sometimes I might go to bed and I’m like, “Oh, I forgot the medicine.” I wanna be able to say, “Oh, you know what? I’ll take it tomorrow.” But I can’t do that. So I started Medication Motivation as a way to motivate myself, one, but then it became something bigger. Other people, same thing, started sending me messages: “You posting these videos every day is really helping me. Every day when I see you post your video, it’s a reminder. That’s when I take my medicine.” And it was even bigger. It started out with people living with HIV, but then people saying, “I have high cholesterol. I have high blood pressure.” Now because I saw Medication Motivation, it’s helping me, and my doctor’s wondering what’s going on. So yeah, that’s what Medication Motivation is. So then I have wristbands. So I started sharing those with people who would post videos and tag me. And I have T-shirts, and I had cups at one point. I was sending ’em out. So it was pretty cool to see people posting videos with the cups in their hand, like Medication Motivation, and taking their medicine, knowing that I took part in helping them stay healthy.

KARL
Lynette Trawick, the Queen of Merchandising on the back of this: I love it. Lynette, that’s all we’ve got time for unfortunately. But thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us and tell us about all the great endeavors you’ve been working on.

LYNETTE
Thank you so much. I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me.

KARL
Absolutely, that’s gonna do it for this episode of +Talk. If you want more information or you want references to what we’ve talked about today with Lynette, check out the book, “Beyond My Diagnosis,” and also, sorry, “From Diagnosis to Destiny,” and also I Am U, Inc. Go to the +Life website. It is pluslifemedia.com. We’ll put all the information on that, and you can follow us across social media. We are @PlusLifeMedia. Until next time, be nice to one another. We’ll see you soon.

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