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Q&A: Activist will speak about living with HIV/AIDS

Hydeia Broadbent will share her story of living with HIV/AIDS tonight at Baker Center Theatre as a part of HIV/AIDS Awareness Week.

Broadbent, 25, was born with HIV/AIDS and became one of the first teenage AIDS activists in the U.S. She has received multiple awards including the Humanitarian Spirit Award and the Grandma's House Award from the Centers for Disease Control.

POWER, Unified Sisters, Student Activities Commission and the Kennedy Lecture Series funded this event and admission is free. It cost $6,000 to bring Broadbent in to speak, said Krystal Stodghill, president of Unified Sisters.

The Post's Elizabeth Dickson spoke to Broadbent about her motivation, the focus of her presentation and misconceptions of HIV/AIDS.

The Post: What motivated you to start sharing your story with students and groups across the country?

Broadbent: When I started speaking it was in the late '80s, when I was diagnosed ... there was a lot of discrimination and a lot of my friends weren't public, and I just felt bad for them and I wanted them to be able to speak and everyone to be treated the same. That is why I started to speak about acceptance and understanding and compassion.

Post: What do you feel students will be surprised by after listening to your presentation?

Broadbent: Everyone takes something different. Some of them will be surprised by how grounded I am, some of them will be surprised that I lead a normal life like them. ... My story will probably touch them in some ways that they think that it won't.

Post: Why would you encourage students or members of the community to come listen to your presentation?

Broadbent: I encourage people to come because I feel like right now people are kind of OK with what is going on in the world about our kids being sexually active and we aren't as worried about the rates of infection because people are dying at alarming rates and that everything is OK because there are medications, but this medication is expensive and not everyone has access to it. We need to wake up and realize that HIV/AIDS affects us in ways that we probably don't understand.

Post: What is the one thing that you would want somebody to take away from your presentation?

Broadbent: There are two things: For those who are infected I say that life is not over. Just because you get a positive test result doesn't mean your life is ending. Also to everyone I would say that HIV/AIDS does not discriminate the H in HIV stands for human and all it takes is one time, so I encourage people to be safe. And for those with AIDS that their life is not over - it may be a little more complicated, but life is not over.

Post: Do you feel there are still a lot of misconceptions that people have about those living with HIV and AIDS, or do you feel people are more educated about it?

Broadbent: A lot of people still think that if your living with AIDS that you can't have a normal life that life is just over and it isn't true. Because of medications, I can have a child now without passing the virus on to my child, or my husband or fiancée, we can have kids now. ... A lot of people think your life is over and it's just not true.

Post: How would you describe what the focus of presentation? Will it be mostly sharing your experience or educating people about those living with HIV/AIDS?

Broadbent: It's going to be somewhat about my story, about prevention and a little bit about how you can and cannot contract HIV. I basically - I really want to bring an understanding. A lot of people think those with HIV are just drug addicts or prostitutes or people who sleep around and it's not like that, all it takes is one time.

3 Culture

Elizabeth Dickson

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(PROVIDED)

If You Go

WHAT: HIV/AIDS Youth Activist Hydeia Broadbent

WHEN: 7 tonight

WHERE: Baker Center Theatre

ADMISSION: Free

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