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HIV/AIDS activist dies at 39


Lasting impact of Hydeia Loren Broadbent

“I’m devastated to hear about the passing of an incredible young woman, activist and hero Hydeia Broadbent.”

—Ervin “Magic” Johnson 

in an “X” Twitter post.

HIV/AIDS activist Hydeia Broadbent passed away in Las Vegas on Feb. 20. Her adoptive father, Loren Broadbent, announced the death of the 39 year old, but did not cite the cause.

Hydeia Loren Broadbent was abandoned at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas on June 14, 1984, and was adopted shortly afterward by Loren and Patricia Broadbent. She was not diagnosed for AIDS (Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome) until she was three, but within the next two years the disease had become full-blown.

AIDS or H.I.V. (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) damages the immune system and inhibits the body’s ability to fight infection and disease. First reported among sexually active members of the gay community in the early 1980s, this led to the misconception the virus was the result of the basic immorality of homosexuality, although it can be transmitted via blood transfusion/transfusion, in the cases of tennis icon Arthur Ashe and celebrity AIDS activist Elizabeth Glaser, intravenous drug use, or myriad other methods of transferal.

In Hydeia’s case, it was passed on to her at childbirth (her drug addicted mother delivered an HIV positive sibling two years later), and she was initially projected to have a life span of five years. By the age of six, she’d begun her career as a spokeswoman for AIDS awareness to counter its global panic and stigma. At seven she met AIDS positive basketball icon Magic Johnson while taping a Nickelodeon special “A Conversation with Magic,” during which they shared an emotional exchange.

“I want people to know,” she said emotionally, “that we’re just normal people.”

“Aww, you don’t have to cry,” Johnson comforted her, “because we are normal people. OK? We are.”

During the course of her ministry, Hydeia remained an inspirational voice in reversing misinformation about the controversial malady with appearances on “Oprah,” “20/20,” and  “Good Morning America. She became a common fixture on media outlets including Ebony, Essence, The New York Times, People, Teen People, and Sister 2 Sister.

Ebony Magazine named Hydeia one of the Most Influential 150 African Americans in 2008 and 2011. The public is encouraged to visit her Facebook page and her website at