Hydeia Broadbent, HIV and AIDS activist, dies at 39

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

Her father, Loren Broadbent, confirmed the death. No reason given.

Ms. 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 has fueled panic and stigma around AIDS, according to her website.

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

“I want people to know that we’re just normal people,” Ms. Broadbent, her face contorted as she fought back tears, told Mr. Johnson. “We are normal people,” he assured her gently. Mr. Johnson posted a recording of the conversation online in tribute on Wednesday.

“I think it’s just opened a lot of people’s eyes that HIV can happen to anyone, because I’m so young,” Ms. Broadbent told The New York Times in 2006 about an interview with Mr. Johnson.

When Ms. Broadbent was 12 years old, she shared her story with a large national television audience, according to the biography page on her website. At the age of 11, she appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and talked about the countless health problems she overcame as a child.

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, according to a biography on her website.

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

The illness affected Ms. Broadbent’s studies, preventing 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 has had no 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 preserving my health during the time I had.”

Ms. Broadbent continued to speak publicly about HIV and AIDS into adulthood. Her work has earned recognition, especially among African Americans. According to her biography, Ebony magazine named her one of the “150 Most Influential African Americans” twice in 2008 and 2011.

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

“I dedicated my whole life to this fight,” she said he told CNN in 2012. “I don’t hate my life. I feel like I am truly blessed. But at the same time, my life doesn’t have to be their life. I had no choice when it came to HIV/AIDS, and people have choices.”

A full obituary follows.

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