In 2001 I flew to Los Angeles to meet and interview the award-winning, community mobilizing, youth educating AIDS activist Hydeia Broadbent. She was 17 then and now at 26, Hydeia is still traveling the globe talking about her experiences living with AIDS and about practicing safe sex. I recently caught up with the ever stylish, forever tweeting Gemini at a Black Girls Rock media reception. She was featured in the BET telecast and spoke on a panel that evening where she shed some tears and talked about being an inspiration to others and being touched herself by the work of Black Girls Rock because “so many Black girls have no idea that they rock.” Afterwards I asked her how she has changed in the last nine years since we first met and she said that she is now in control of her life– that for the first time ever she has taken charge of her professional and personal affairs and is especially enjoying living on her own back in her native Vegas. When I first spoke to Hydeia, at the time, she no longer needed to take her meds in order to be healthy, but today she is on a battery of pills and does not mix words about the financial and physical challenges of doing so: “Each pill I take costs $750.” Always on a mission to make a difference, this past spring in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she helped launch “I Know”—a social media initiative that encourages African-American young adults to talk openly about HIV, to know their status and to get tested. In recognition of World AIDS Day today, I have gone into the archives and dug up that 2001 interview with Hydeia. Check it out below:
(ARCHIVES) There are some activists who are born out of experience and through extreme conditions– imprisonment, discrimination, rape, sickness. Then there are those that are simply born. Kicking and screaming out of the womb they come to bring the noise. Hydeia Broadbent falls into the latter category. At 17, she is not just one of the youngest AIDS activists in the United States, she is one of the most prominent and renowned.
Although she looks like a precocious 11-year old experiencing her last year in grade school, there is nothing elementary about this FUBU-wearing freedom fighter that was told she would not live to see her eighth birthday. She’s undergone three open-lung biopsies, fended off a number of brain and blood infections and endured a world of discrimination including a kindergarten teacher who sprayed her with bleach for fear of contamination.
It’s 7AM and Hydeia is scoffing down a plate of pancakes and scrambled eggs and thinking aloud about her speech for the AIDS Walk event happening later that morning. “I don’t want to preach to anyone or tell young people what to do. Kids don’t want to be told what to do. I can’t tell them to be a virgin forever… (Click HERE to continue reading interview)