HIV/AIDS Activist Hydeia Broadbent Tours Meharry’s Center for AIDS Health Disparities Research

Hydeia BroadbentHIV/AIDS activist Hydeia Broadbent spoke with students and toured Meharry’s Center for Women’s Health Research and Center for AIDS Health Disparities Research Wednesday (April 12, 2017) to learn about Meharry’s groundbreaking findings in HIV/AIDS health disparities.

Broadbent, a part of the first generation of children born with HIV, was born in 1984 and adopted at 6 weeks old. Her adoptive parents learned she was HIV positive three years later and subsequently enrolled her in research studies through the National Institutes of Health.

“I was a human guinea pig,” said Broadbent who through research studies was able to gain access to medications that were still in the testing phase. “It saved my life.”

Broadbent is an advocate for translational research and clinical studies like the research conducted at Meharry because she said it could lead to lifesaving new treatments.

Dr. Chandravanu Dash in lab

Looking for answers: Chandravanu Dash, Ph.D., researcher at Meharry’s Center for AIDS Health Disparities

Meharry’s Center for AIDS Health Disparities Research conducts studies designed to identify, understand and eliminate factors responsible for the disproportionate burden of AIDS and HIV infections among minorities in the United States.

African-American women contract HIV at a rate that is 20 times higher than white women. Broadbent wants to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS among Millennials. She said 51 percent of youth age 13 to 24 living with HIV, don’t know it, and only 23 percent of high school students have been tested.

“Sometimes we get lost in the numbers,” Broadbent said. “I hope you take this message of prevention and awareness back to your little sisters and little brothers.”

Broadbent became an AIDS activist when she was a child because she wanted to speak up for friends who were living with HIV but were ashamed to tell anyone. Today, she hopes to share her life story and what it’s like to live with AIDS in hopes of removing stigma.

“I hope people will walk away with an understanding of how to speak about HIV,” she said. “We need to make sure we are not speaking in a way that is stigmatizing to people with HIV and AIDS.”