Prominent HIV/AIDS activist Hydeia Broadbent passes away at 39

Hydeia Broadbent, 39, passed away. She was well-known for promoting awareness to reduce the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS from an early age. She represented children living with HIV/AIDS in America, particularly in the African American community.

Her father, Loren Broadbent, verified her untimely death on Tuesday in a Facebook posting. He kept the cause of death a secret.

“With great sadness, I must inform you all that our beloved friend, mentor and daughter Hydeia, passed away today after living with Aids since birth,” he wrote on social media. “Despite facing numerous challenges throughout her life, Hydeia remained determined to spread hope and positivity through education around Hiv/AIDS.”

Broadbent was identified as having HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, at the age of three. Her mother, an IV drug user, left her at the hospital, passing on the sickness, and doctors estimated she wouldn’t survive past the age of five.

However, with the support of her adoptive parents, Broadbent was already telling her tale in public by the time she was six years old.

She has made numerous national appearances to promote awareness about HIV throughout the years, including a Nickelodeon special with Magic Johnson and an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

“In the 1992 special, Broadbent expressed, with tears in his eyes, “I want people to know that we’re just regular folks.”

Twenty years later, Johnson claimed the moment was critical to him in an interview with CNN.

“That very moment was both sad and inspirational,” he stated to CNN. Her experience inspired me to take further action to raise awareness of the illness and educate others so that no one would have to endure what she went through that day.

At the Republican National Convention in 1996, Broadbent made the well-known statement, “I am the future, and I have AIDS.”

Her family’s memoir, You Get Past the Tears: A Memoir of Love and Survival, was released in 2002 and detailed their experiences.

She is also well-known for founding the Hydeia L. Broadbent Foundation and working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign.

Broadbent celebrated turning 34 in a 2018 blog post, referring to herself as a member of “the first generation of children born HIV positive.”

Her words, “I am here, a force to be reckoned with,” “The past few years have been incredibly challenging; I’ve battled depression to frightening extent. I was so deep in depression that I didn’t know how I would ever find the beauty in life again. I didn’t know how I would get myself back up. I can now recognize the blessings and lessons from my valley because I have a new perspective.”

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