ESSENCE Network: AIDS Activist Hydeia Broadbent on Life, Love and the end of HIV

AIDS activist Hydeia Broadbent shares her hopes for a future where Black women are free of HIV.

After being born with HIV and adopted soon after, Hydeia Broadbent began a career as a speaker and AIDS activist at age 6. She went on to capture the hearts of the world from Oprah Winfrey’s couch to the pages of ESSENCE humanizing the HIV epidemic in the 90s. Now at 30, Broadbent continues to share a message of awareness and prevention, and encourages you to rock your red pumps this Tuesday, March 10th for National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. See what gift Winfrey shared with her backstage and her special message for you. 

Name: Hydeia Loren Broadbent

Age: 30

Location:  Las Vegas, NV

Her typical day: If I’m not on the road speaking, you can find me home checking e-mails, working out and following up on other projects I have in the works.  I am committed to doing my part to create a future without AIDS.

Life after Oprah’s couch: I actually don’t remember her crying. I remember being on the stage and spending time with her after the show. She introduced me to her dogs and she gave me an All American Girl Addy Doll. Last year when I was featured in Oprah’s Where Are They Now, the response was overwhelming. I found out I was one of the most requested updates by viewers. So many people feel like they have watched me grow up, and are just excited to know I’m doing well and still speaking out.  

Her message to you: The one truth I have for Black women about HIV is that it can happen to any one of us. We sometimes don’t think we are the “kind of woman” at risk for HIV. We often place ourselves on a pedestal mentally, but don’t follow through physically or verbally.  We don’t actually have the important conversations with our partners nor are we getting tested for HIV. 

Confessions of an AIDS activist: The story that sticks with me the most has to be when I was in Canada on a talk show when I was younger. A woman called in and said she had been raped and contracted HIV. She later found out she was pregnant and was contemplating suicide because she didn’t want to bring a child into the world with AIDS. She stated she had seen me on TV and knew if I could handle life so could she and her unborn child. This was a special moment for me because at a young age I was able to see the power of my activism. 

Her biggest lessons learned: My poor relationships and choices in men had the biggest impact on my life. My recovery consisted of me taking the time to heal and learn about myself, going to therapy and reading a lot of books.

Her 30th birthday: I kept my celebration very intimate. I got dressed, did my makeup, put on my dancing shoes and danced the night away with my sisters and a few close friends.  

What might surprise you: I’m actually very shy. I can get on any stage and share my story or run a workshop with over 500 people, but I have a hard time speaking with people one-on-one. 

Her proudest accomplishment: I rejoice daily knowing I beat the odds as a child, living past the age of five. Today babies born in the U.S. don’t have to worry about contracting HIV at birth like I did. I’m pretty proud to know that my life and work have contributed to that!

Her secret superpower: I’m driven, determined to achieve my goals and live my dream life.

Her beauty bag: I love my MAC make up and Ampro’s Shine ‘n Jam conditioning gel extra hold. 

Her style accessory: I love a good pair of heels. On Tuesday, March 10th break out your red pumps for National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day!

Her happy place: I pray a lot and just started meditating.

Her theme song: “Fire” by Michelle Williams. It speaks to where I am in this moment in my life.

Follow Hydeia Broadbent on Twitter and Instagram.

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