Hydeia Broadbent Sets it Straight
BY TOMIKA ANDERSON
Hydeia Broadbent has been living with HIV her entire life, but as she told Black Enterprise yesterday, that has not been a death sentence. In fact, the 26-year-old AIDS activist has been a very vocal spokeswoman for awareness about the disease, which has reached epidemic proportions in the African American community. Black people account for 50 percent of all new HIV diagnoses in this country but only 12 percent of the U.S. population. Despite her work and increased public information about HIV/AIDS, Broadbent still encounters people who have outdated misconceptions about the disease. For this year’s World AIDS Day she sets the record straight.
1. LOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING You can’t look at someone and tell they have HIV. Often there aren’t any physical symptoms. If you’re sexually active you should go get tested every six months. If you’re in a relationship with someone, go get tested together. If you can’t [get them to go with you] you shouldn’t be sleeping with him or her.
2. HIV/AIDS DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE A lot of young people still associate HIV/AIDS as a gay man’s disease. It’s not. It can affect anyone at any time. There is a lot of hype over “men on the down low” spreading this disease in our community but that’s not how most of our girls/women are becoming infected. They’re mostly being infected by heterosexual men who have more than one sex partner that we may or may not know about. The H in HIV stands for human, which means anyone is at risk if they don’t protect themselves from being infected.
3. MEDICINE HELPS BUT THERE IS STILL NO CURE AIDS may no longer be a death sentence because of advancements in medicine but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect yourselves. Among other things, it’s a very expensive disease to live with. You don’t just pay for the medicine—you pay to see a doctor and to get blood work done. And it’s not guaranteed your state or the federal government will pay for any of this because of widespread funding cuts. While people are living longer, 18,000 die each year due to complications with AIDS, according to the CDC.
4. REAL LIFE IS NOT LIKE A RAP VIDEO Young people trying to emulate the rapper/hip-hop lifestyle is really hurting us. Kids want to live these glorified experiences out in real life—sleeping with lots of people, getting high on drugs and spending time in jail—but we’re not talking about the consequences of these actions. Being clouded by drugs and alcohol impairs your judgment. Having multiple sex partners increases your risk for infection.
5. HIV/AIDS IS NOT THE END OF YOUR SOCIAL LIFE It is possible to have a relationship with someone who is infected. You just need to know what’s safe and how to protect yourself.
6. HAVING HEALTHY KIDS IS STILL AN OPTION You can also have children if you are HIV positive. There are ways to protect your unborn child from being born with the disease. Consult your doctor to find out more.