NATIONAL NEWS

HIV/AIDS activist Hydeia Broadbent, known for her inspirational talks as a young child, dies at 39

Feb 22, 2024, 10:22 AM

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Hydeia Broadbent, a prominent HIV/AIDS activist known for her inspirational talks in the 1990s as a young child to reduce the stigma surrounding the virus she was born with, has died. She was 39.

Broadbent’s father announced her death in a Facebook post, saying she had died unexpectedly “after living with Aids since birth,” but did not provide more details.

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

The Clark County coroner’s office said Broadbent died Tuesday in Las Vegas. Her cause and manner of death has not yet been determined.

Broadbent was adopted in Las Vegas by her parents Patricia and Loren Broadbent as a baby, but her health condition wasn’t known until she became seriously ill at 3. By age 5, Broadbent had developed full-blown AIDS.

Patricia Broadbent began giving talks to local groups about the hardship of raising a child with AIDS, and little Hydeia listened, soaking in all she heard.

Soon, Hydeia Broadbent was speaking before the crowds.

She made the talk show circuit as a child, met the president and first lady, spoke at the 1996 Republican National Convention, starred in a television special on Nickelodeon with Magic Johnson, and was featured on a segment on ABC’s “20/20.”

A 7-year-old Broadbent became a national symbol of HIV when she joined Johnson on the 1992 Nickelodeon special, where the basketball legend talked about his own HIV diagnosis. The teary-eyed girl pleaded that all she wanted was for “people (to) know that we’re just normal people.”

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Johnson said he was devastated by news of her death and remembered Broadbent as an activist and hero who “changed the world with her bravery.”

“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,” Johnson wrote. “Cookie and I are praying for the Broadbent family and everyone that knew and loved Hydeia.”

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HIV/AIDS activist Hydeia Broadbent, known for her inspirational talks as a young child, dies at 39