International AIDS Activist, Hydeia Broadbent, has spent most of her life speaking publicly about HIV/AIDS. At birth, Broadbent contracted HIV from her drug-addict mother. Not expected to live past the age of five, Broadbent defied all the odds and lives a normal life today. Broadbent is committed more than ever to educate others about HIV/AIDS in hopes of saving lives. Broadbent once wrote, “It is something I felt I needed to do, and until the virus disappears or there is a cure, it will always be something that I do.”
A Word For My Sistas: One thing that I find so remarkable about you is that you became an AIDS activist at such an early age and also during a time when there was this huge stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. How did you come to the decision to use your voice to spread your knowledge about HIV/AIDS?
Hydeia Broadbent: I wanted to speak out so my friends could be open about living with HIV/AIDS. A lot of my friends were not public out of fear that their parents might lose their jobs or be kicked out of their homes. We all remember what Ryan White went through and it caused a lot of fear for other families. I wanted to change that!
A Word For My Sistas: I feel that even in 2010, there is still this stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS within our community. Do you feel the same way? And if so, what do you think can be done to change this?
Hydeia Broadbent: Yes, people only want to talk about HIV/AIDS on December 1 or on June 27. I wish I could only think about it on those two dates! We need to start talking about it more. Seeing that at the end of 2007, the CDC estimated that 468,578 people were living with AIDS in America. We might want to wake up and start being safe. We want to believe that it will not happen to us. HIV/AIDS does not care if you are Black/White rich or poor. H in HIV stands for Human, which means US everyone! So people need to stop thinking that it will not happen to them and start asking what they can do to make sure that they do not test positive.
A Word For My Sistas: I think that one way HIV infection rates among women can be reduced if more women insist that their partners wear condoms during sex. Why do you think it is so hard for some women to speak up and insist on condom usage when having sex with their partners?
Hydeia Broadbent: Because women do not want to do things to make the man they are sleeping with upset. So many women are afraid to be alone! We get those same old lines, “What, you don’t trust me?” Or “What, you think I am sleeping around?” The truth is that it is 2010 and you can die from having sex; maybe not in the act, but over time. We know people cheat and we need to be more reasonable when it comes to our heath, because no one else will be. We can no longer trust the people we love with our lives because some people can be shady and can just be looking out for themselves! Women need to understand that they hold more power than they realize! If you do not want to use condoms, go with your partner to get tested. If you can not go together, then there is a problem. Should you really be sleeping with this person?
A Word For My Sistas: Doctors said that you would not live past the age of five. You certainly proved them wrong. How is your health today?
Hydeia Broadbent: My heath today is pretty good!
A Word For My Sistas: If I am not mistaken, you are currently in a relationship. Has it been difficult dating or having a relationship when you are a person living with AIDS?
Hydeia Broadbent: For me, I have always been public about my status, so I never really had to sit someone down to tell them that I was living with AIDS. I have taken them with me to meet my doctors to educate them about what is safe and what is not safe. I was once in love with someone who was not strong enough to deal with me having AIDS. That affected me a lot because AIDS is a part of me. I can not hide that fact or act like it is not there. So not being able to deal with me having AIDS means you can not deal with me! I am now in a relationship with a person who is man enough to tell people to shut up if they make jokes or question him about why he is dating me. I am very blessed to have found true love!
A Word For My Sistas: Is getting married and having children a part of your destiny?
Hydeia Broadbent: I believe so. I am just not sure when. My boyfriend and I have talked about marriage and talked about when will be the right time to get married. When he is done with school and we have enough money set side, we will get married! I would love to have children, but there is a lot to consider when it comes to that. So I am not sure. I might adopt a baby!
A Word For My Sistas: To those people, for whatever reason, who think that HIV/AIDS can’t happen to them, what would you say?
Hydeia Broadbent: All it takes is one time! HIV/AIDS is not picky at all. It does not care about race, religion, or income. So be educated about how you can get HIV/AIDS. Get tested and be safe!
A Word For My Sistas: Finish the following sentence for me. I hope someday that…..
Hydeia Broadbent: World AIDS Day will be a day we remember the people who fought hard to end HIV/AIDS and remember the people we lost along the way. Not a day we have to use to inform people about the facts or test people because we will have a cure!