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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Maanvi Singh and agencies

HIV/Aids activist Hydeia Broadbent dies aged 39

A young Black woman smiles with her arms folded
Hydeia Broadbent in Houston, Texas, in 2014. Photograph: Marie D De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images

Hydeia Broadbent, an HIV/Aids activist who from a young age campaigned to reduce stigma around the virus, died on Tuesday in her home in Las Vegas. She was 39.

Her father, Loren Broadbent, announced her death in a Facebook post. He did not share a cause of death.

“Despite facing numerous challenges throughout her life, Hydeia remained determined to spread hope and positivity through education around HIV/AIDS,” he wrote.

Hydeia Broadbent was adopted by Patricia and Loren Broadbent as a baby, and was diagnosed as positive with HIV, the virus that causes Aids, at age three. By the time she was six years old, Broadbent was sharing her story on television – with the aim of educating the public and reducing stigma surrounding the virus. When she was seven, she starred in a Nickelodeon special with the basketball star Magic Johnson, who by then had revealed his HIV-positive status.

A young Black girl with cornrows, pink lipstick and a dark jeans jacket leans her left cheek on her hand, looking up at someone beyond the camera. Beyond her in a pew are a row of young Black people.
Broadbent at a church in Los Angeles to talk about being 16 and growing up with Aids, on 10 March 2001. Photograph: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Johnson posted a clip from the segment on social media following the news of Broadbent’s death. “By speaking out at such a young age, she helped so many people, young and old, because she wasn’t afraid to share her story and allowed everyone to see that those living with HIV and AIDS were everyday people and should be treated with respect,” he wrote. “Thanks to Hydeia, millions were educated, stigmas were broken, and attitudes about HIV/AIDs were changed.”

At age 11, Broadbent appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and at 12, she spoke at the Republican national convention, where she told the crowd: “I am the future, and I have Aids.”

She continued to speak about HIV/Aids as an adult, seeking to fight misinformation and increase awareness about available treatments and ways to stop transmission of the virus. She worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign and launched the Hydeia L Broadbent Foundation.

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