Hydeia Broadbent, HIV and AIDS activist, dies at 39

Hydeia Broadbent, who was born with HIV and as a child became a leading voice in raising awareness about the virus and AIDS, died Tuesday at her home in Las Vegas. She was 39 years old.

His father, Loren Broadbent, confirmed the death. He did not cite the cause.

Ms. Broadbent was 6 years old when she began recounting her fight against HIV on television, with the goal of educating the public in the midst of an epidemic that produced panic and stigma.. Even as new treatments dramatically improved long-term outcomes for people with HIV, he stressed that there was no cure and that infection was a life sentence, and urged people to prevent its spread.

In 1992, when she was 7, Ms. Broadbent was interviewed on Nickelodeon in a special program with Magic Johnson, the basketball star, who, after his own HIV diagnosis, became a familiar face in the fight against HIV. HIV and AIDS.

“I want people to know that we are normal people,” Mrs. Broadbent told Johnson, her face scrunched up as she fought back tears. He gently reassured her: “We are normal people.”

Mr. Johnson posted a clip of the conversation on social media on Wednesday, writing: “Hydeia changed the world with her bravery, speaking out about how living with HIV affected her life from birth.” And she added: “Thanks to Hydeia, millions of people were educated, stigmas were broken and attitudes about HIV/AIDS were changed.”

Interviewed by The New York Times in 2006, Ms. Broadbent said of the televised interview with Mr. Johnson: “I think it opened a lot of people’s eyes to the fact that HIV can happen to anyone, being so young.” “.

By the time he was 12, he had shared his story with numerous national viewers.. At 11 he appeared in “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and spoke about the countless health problems she had faced growing up and the emotional toll of the illness.

“When I turned 5, I had AIDS symptoms,” he said. “He had had brain fungus, blood infections, pneumonia.”

Ms. Winfrey asked: “What is the hardest part for you, Hydeia, about living with this disease?”

“When your friends die,” Mrs. Broadbent replied. “That’s the hardest part, because you love them and you always lose a friend to AIDS.”

Hydeia Loren Broadbent was born on June 14, 1984 in a hospital in Las Vegas. She was abandoned at birth and adopted by Loren and Patricia Broadbent.

Although he was born with HIV, he was not diagnosed until he was 3 years old. Doctors recommended that her parents seek treatment at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, where they administered a cocktail of medications that saved her life, his father told CNN in a profile of Ms. Broadbent. .

It was at the NIH that Hydeia, a vivacious child, caught the attention of Elizabeth Glaser, founder of a pediatric AIDS foundation. She asked Ms Broadbent’s mother if she would allow Hydeia to speak in public.

“I started speaking out because a lot of my friends weren’t public about the fact that they had HIV/AIDS,” Broadbent told CNN in 2012, when she was 27 years old. “They hid secretly. “His schoolmates didn’t even know.”

In 1996, at age 12, he spoke at the Republican National Convention in San Diego, where he told delegates, “I am the future and I have AIDS.”

The illness had affected his learning, preventing him from attending school until the seventh grade. At Odyssey High School in Las Vegas, he was part of a program that allowed him to work from home on a computer.

“My daughter did not receive a formal education because of her illness,” her mother told the Times in 2001 for an article about teenagers living with AIDS. “My priority was not school, but keeping her healthy for as long as she had.”

Ms. Broadbent continued to speak publicly about HIV and AIDS into adulthood. Her work earned her recognition, particularly among African Americans. Ebony magazine ranked her among the “150 Most Influential African Americans” twice, in 2008 and 2011..

Complete information about the survivors was not immediately available.

As an adult, Ms. Broadbent focused on combating stigma and misinformation around AIDS and educating the public about prevention.

“I have dedicated my entire life to this fight,” he said. he told CNN in 2012. “I don’t hate my life. I feel like I’m really blessed. But at the same time, my life doesn’t have to be theirs. “I didn’t have a choice when it came to HIV/AIDS, and people do have a choice.”

gabriel trip contributed reports.