Hydeia Broadbent, renowned HIV and AIDS activist, dies at 39

The award-winning humanitarian rose to fame after being born with the disease in the 1980s. She began raising awareness at the young age of 6.
Hydeia Broadbent
Posted at 1:27 PM, Feb 22, 2024

Hydeia Broadbent, a renowned HIV/AIDS activist who rose to fame after being born with the disease in the 1980s, has died at 39.

Her father confirmed the news in a Facebook post.

"With great sadness, I must inform you all that our beloved friend, mentor and daughter Hydeia, passed away today after living with AIDS since birth. Despite facing numerous challenges throughout her life, Hydeia remained determined to spread hope and positivity through education around HIVAIDS," wrote Loren Broadbent.

Hydeia was born June 14, 1984, at a Las Vegas hospital. She was abandoned at birth and adopted by her parents Loren and Patricia Broadbent. Though her condition was congenital, she was not diagnosed as HIV-positive with advancement to AIDS until she was 3 years old, according to her website

Hydeia's illness prevented her from traditional schooling until age 7. She attended Odyssey High School in Las Vegas, through a program allowing her to learn from home on a computer, according to The New York Times.

"My daughter didn't have a formal education because of her illness," her mother Patricia told the Times in 2001. "My priority was not school, but keeping her healthy for the time she had."

Hydeia began raising awareness about HIV and AIDS from the young age of 6. By 11, she appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," where she shared her struggle with the disease.

Craig L. Moran / AP

Hydeia went on to become a motivational speaker and was often featured as a guest panelist at some of the nation's top colleges, including Duke University, UCLA and Howard University.

She garnered several accolades for her work, including the American Red Cross Spirit Award, an Essence Award, and being named one of the Most Influential 150 African Americans by Ebony Magazine in both 2008 and 2011.

Hydeia spent the remainder of her life combating the stigma of living with HIV/AIDS. 

"I have dedicated my whole life to this fight," she said in a 2012 CNN article she appeared in alongside pro basketball player Magic Johnson.

"I don't hate my life. I feel like I'm really blessed. But at the same time, my life doesn't have to be their life. I didn't have a choice when it came to HIV/AIDS, and people do have a choice," she said.