By: Veronica Appleton
Happy National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day! We invite you to join us as we celebrate this day of empowerment with Hydeia Broadbent, an HIV/AIDS advocate and panelist for Red Power Convos, a night of conversation to discuss stigma and how this epidemic affects women on March 10 in New York City.
In 1996, on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, Broadbent, who was 11 years old at the time, shared her experience in living with AIDS in front of millions of viewers. Now at 30 years old, Broadbent has traveled to college campuses, made on-air appearances and connected with youth across the globe to share her story of courage, and tips on how to avoid at-risk behaviors through informed decision-making.
As one of the first African-American youth to openly discuss HIV/AIDS, Broadbent has been recognized as a top influencer by EBONY, TheGrio.com, TheRoot.com, Essence, 20/20, Good Morning America and many other media outlets.
To learn more about how Broadbent educates youth on HIV/AIDS prevention and safe-sex practices, read the Q&A story below!
Red Pump: What actions have you taken to fight the stigma against HIV?
Broadbent: When I was really young, I didn’t understand the magnitude of what I was doing, but I knew I wanted to make sure I was accepted and also for many of my friends. Talking to youth, men and women everywhere is what I believe in. You have to be an example to the audience you are trying to connect with. Sharing your story with others about how you promote abstinence and enable safe-sex practices is what will drive continued prevention and awareness of HIV/AIDS.
Red Pump: Why is it important for women to speak openly about HIV and the issues that surrounds this condition?
Broadbent: If you can, encourage your friends to get tested, this empowers us to plant the seed of being informed. People think because I was born with HIV my story does not apply to them. Well this same disease I am living with is the same disease you can get if you don’t practice safe sex and know your HIV status and the HIV status of your sexual partner. I ask people to use my testimony as a warning of what you don’t want to go through.
Also, I talk to my nieces and sisters all the time about safe sex. It’s important to talk about it. Thinking back to when I was younger, I don’t remember my mom talking to me about the emotional factors, or the responsibilities involved in sex, or how you should be treated. As a result, I always have these conversations with my nieces and sisters, because they will never know unless you tell them.
Red Pump: On your website, I saw the following quote, We are responsible for the choices we make and I challenge everyone to be accountable. Would you say that this is your motto?
Broadbent: Yes, because there’s a point and time where…it can sound so harsh…but (when) a couple of my friends became affected, there was always someone that blamed someone else. You should ask your partner any questions you may have. You know HIV/AIDS is here, so why are you having unprotected sex with someone? It’s 2015! We know about STDs and STIs, so we have to take control of our sexual health and stop trusting our lives with people we barely know. Sometimes I wonder, why in this day and age are people having unprotected sex with someone they barely know? The answer is simple, if you are sexually active, you need to use a condom. We all play a role and we all need to be accountable.
Red Pump: What has been your biggest challenge as a woman living with HIV? How have you overcome that?
Broadbent: Now that I’m single, it’s the dating. First of all, it’s finding a guy who isn’t afraid of your HIV status. Secondly, it’s all about finding a guy who’s about something and who has something going for himself.
Red Pump: Do you believe stigma exists towards people living with HIV/AIDS?
Broadbent: I think there’s still a little stigma out there. But, it’s not as bad as it was in the late 80’s and 90’s.
Red Pump: Why do you #RocktheRedPump?
Broadbent: Of course, raising AIDS awareness. If I can be stylish and fashionable on the stage, that makes everything all the more possible.
Red Pump: You are now the spokeswoman for Ampro. How does it feel to shed positive light into a well-known hair care brand?
Broadbent: It’s really an awesome experience! I was so very honored to receive such an opportunity from a company that has nothing to do with HIV/AIDS. I’m familiar with the product and it is especially well known among African American women. I’m truly honored and since becoming the spokeswomen, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in interviews, appearances, hair shows and conventions, and interviews with the media.
4 Things You Didn’t Know About Hydeia:
- She loves hanging out with family, going to church, and visiting new and exciting restaurants.
- Being Mary Jane, Empire, Scandal and The Game are some of her favorite TV Shows.
- Her go-to favorite meal is Chinese and seafood.
- The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the Office of Pediatrics AIDS Foundation and Until There’s A Cure are some of the many organizations she’s a member of to further the awareness of HIV/AIDS.
“Red Pump Stories” is an initiative created to document the narratives, challenges, and successes of women living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. This project will further the mission of decreasing the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, and allow us to stand with women who have experienced first-hand the impact of this condition.