HIV/AIDS activist Hydeia Broadbent dies at 39

    The Hawk
    February22/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    A Trailblazer in HIV Advocacy and AIDS Awareness. From a childhood on TV to influencing national discussions, her impactful journey leaves a lasting legacy.

    Hydeia Broadbent

    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.

    Her father, Loren Broadbent, confirmed the death. No cause was given.

    Broadbent was 6 years old when she began sharing her struggle with HIV on television programs, aiming to educate the public amid an epidemic that produced panic and stigma around AIDS, according to her website.

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

    “I want people to know that we’re just normal people,” Broadbent, her face crumpling as she fought through tears, told Johnson. “We are normal people,” he gently reassured her. Johnson posted a clip of the conversation online in a tribute Wednesday.

    “I think it just opened a lot of people’s eyes that HIV can happen to anybody, with me being so young,” Broadbent told The New York Times in 2006 about the interview with Johnson.

    By the time Broadbent was 12, she had shared her story with numerous national television audiences, according to the biography page on her website. At 11, she appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and talked about the myriad health issues she had overcome as a toddler.

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

    Although she had been born with HIV, it was not diagnosed until she was 3 years old.

    The illness affected Broadbent’s learning, keeping her from attending school until the seventh grade. At Odyssey High School in Las Vegas, she was part of a program that allowed her to work from home on a computer.

    “My daughter didn’t have a formal education because of her illness,” her mother, Patricia, told the Times in 2001 for an article about teenagers living with AIDS. “My priority was not school, but keeping her healthy for the time she had.”

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

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

    “I have dedicated my whole life to this fight,” she 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 their life. I didn’t have a choice when it came to HIV/AIDS, and people do have a choice.”

    —International New York Times