For the observation of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, activist Hydeia Broadbent, visited Florida A&M University on Tuesday, at the College of Pharmacy Blue Cross Blue Shield Auditorium to speak to students about the importance of prevention.
Broadbent was born with HIV and was not detected as HIV-positive with the advancement to AIDS until she was 3-years-old. By the age of six, she began her public speaking career and since then, traveled internationally and appeared on several media outlets.
“I still live life, I do not live in fear. I am here today, 32-years-old and I want people to view my life as a representation that you can live life with AIDS,” said Broadbent.
This event was sponsored by the Florida A&M University Community Agencies, Partnership to Prevent Substance Abuse, HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C (CAPPSAHH) Grant, in addition to collaborating with other colleges, health departments and nonprofit organizations.
CAPPSAHH Grant graduate assistant, Melody Taylor, took part in coordinating the event with the hopes to encourage students to understand the concept that they are not immune from AIDS.
“I know that many students think that just because they have sex once in awhile, they won’t catch HIV. Yet still, that does not negate you from catching the disease,” said Taylor. We need to be responsible and discuss these things to our partners.”
African Americans, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, account for a higher proportion of HIV/AIDS diagnoses than other races and ethnicities. Comprising only 12 percent of the United States’ population, African Americans accounted for 45% of HIV diagnoses.
During Broadbent presentation, she stated how black women in particular are contradicting HIV at an alarming rate. However, she continued to explain that no matter what an individual’s race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation may be, anyone can be contradicted with the virus.
“The H in HIV stands for human,” said Broadbent. “We can all be at risk, that's why it's important to have protected sex and get tested.”
Corday Dukes, 25, second year doctor of pharmacy candidate, went to see Broadbent speak and appreciated her words of affirmation about living a fulfilled life.
“Broadbent’s willingness to express herself and remain humble, opening up to everything she is going through and showing her vulnerability stuck out to me the most,” said Dukes. “Her demeanor made you take in her information about awareness and prevention seriously and pushes you to understand why it is important to talk about these topics in our community. These are barriers that we need to break down and it starts by communicating within each other.”
Broadbent took questions from the audience ranging from relationships, motherhood and advocacy groups. She told the audience that since she was a little girl in the 1980s to now, how she has personally witnessed the African American community come a long way with awareness and prevention.
“Talk to your little brothers, little sisters and little cousins because no one is talking to them about this,” said Broadbent. “We need voices to speak to our youth.”
Rapid HIV testing is provided at three locations on FAMU’s campus: Campus Recreation Center, FAMU Village and Foote-Hilyer. For additional information on student health services and testing schedules visit famu.edu/shs