Hydeia Broadbent, A Groundbreaking AIDS Activist, Has Passed Away At 39


Today, we remember HIV/AIDS activist, educator, and survivor Hydeia Broadbent, who died of natural causes in her sleep on February 20th. Her passing was confirmed by her father, Loren Broadbent, in a post on Facebook, as well as countless friends and fellow activists like Rae-Lewis Thorton

Broadbent began her HIV/AIDS activism at a young age, at 12 years old, when she first became one of the Black poster children for AIDS on national television, as she appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The Maury Povich Show,” “Good Morning America” and numerous other programs. At the 1996 Republican Convention, Hydeia, then 12, told the crowd, “I am the future, and I have AIDS.” Her fearlessness, representation, and bravery when it came to being visible with the disease inspired others with the illness, including Magic Johnson, who was HIV-positive as well. On the Nickelodeon AIDS special about 20-plus years ago, she allowed herself to be vulnerable with the basketball legend, “I want people to know,” Hydeia said, sniffling, “that we’re just normal people.” “Aww, you don’t have to cry,” Johnson replied, “because we are normal people. OK? We are.” That moment proved to America’s youth that the disease could affect anyone.

Hydeia Broadbent, A Groundbreaking AIDS Activist, Has Passed Away At 39
Hydeia Broadbent on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 1996.

Her origin story was not an easy one. In 1984, at birth, Broadbent was abandoned at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas, and doctors believed that she wouldn’t live past the age of five, given that she was born HIV-positive and addicted to crack. Adopted at six weeks old by her adoptive parents, Loren and Patricia Broadbent, they found out three years later that she had HIV. Although her HIV condition was congenital, she was not diagnosed as HIV-positive with advancement to AIDS until age three. 

Despite her circumstances, Broadbent rose above to educate and empower millions with her story while cementing her legacy. 

In 2002, her family published a book titled “You Get Past The Tears,” Up until her passing, she was known as a noted international motivational speaker, sharing her stories with others. Additionally, since 2014, Broadbent has represented the Magic Johnson Foundation as well as other AIDS activist organizations to educate people about HIV/AIDS, promoting abstinence, safe-sex practices (for people who choose to have sex), and HIV/AIDS Awareness and prevention.

Her life’s mission statement was to inform and create dialogue around HIV/AIDS in our homes, communities, educational institutions, and churches. “My life’s mission is met in two folds: first to use my life as a prevention tool for those who are HIV negative to make informed decisions to stay HIV negative, and also for those living with HIV/AIDS to find hope and inspiration not to allow HIV or AIDS to hold them back from living their best life,” she said. “People think because I was born with HIV, my story does not apply to them. Well, this same disease I am living with is the same disease you can get if you are aware and informed. I use my testimony as a warning of what you don’t want to go through.”

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