World Aids Day, December 1, is a day created to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for people living with it and remember those who have lost their fight.
A Las Vegas woman needs no reminder about the day because she lives with AIDS every single day. She was born with HIV and by the time she was five, she had AIDS.
Hydeia Broadbent has dedicated her life to raising awareness and helping others.
“I want people to know we’re just normal people,” said Broadbent when she appeared on Nickelodeon as a child.
She gained nationwide attention as an activist when she was only a child and appeared on many shows including Oprah.
“We didn’t think I would make it,” Broadbent said. “When I turned 21 it was a life shock.”
Broadbent is now an energetic and compassionate 31-year-old.
“I wasn’t supposed to live past the age of 5. Now they are predicting I might live well into my 70’s or 80’s. So there is life after a positive HIV result, but what we’re trying to avoid is people becoming infected,” she said.\
As a HIV and AIDS activist, Broadbent admits she’s often frustrated that the majority of new cases are from African American women.
She encourages individuals to get tested — know your status — and be responsible. she’s discouraged that the public is becomming complacent.
“They don’t see the struggle of trying to make sure you have insurance or they don’t see the side effects of taking the medication or the struggle of disclosing it,” Broadbent said. “I feel like we don’t talk about HIV because we don’t want to deal with the realness. We don’t want to talk about death “
Those losses have been hard on Hydeia. She’s publicly mourned the deaths of Ryan White and many others.
But she channeled that grief into motivation to keep HIV and AIDS in the national spotlight. Nearly 20 years ago, she addressed the Republican National Convention. If asked to speak today, she says, the message would be even broader.
“It would not just be about having AIDS, it would be about being black in America,” she said. “People not knowing or being aware of their HIV status falls into not having access to healthcare. Why don’t they have access to healthcare? It falls under not being educated. Why aren’t they being educated on this subject matter? So there would be a lot to say if I went to the Republican National Convention today.”
Medical advances, plus her purpose and passion, have allowed her to live the full life she always dreamed of and that includes having a family and continuing a life of work she was born to do.
“I’m very blessed that I’ve been able to take my life to turn the negative into something positive so that’s been a blessing for me.”