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Tiny activist makes giant impacts

Sept. 25, 1996

Tiny activist makes giant impact

Channel 25 interviews Hydeia L. Broadbent, a 12-year-old AIDS activist in a North Waco Project Ministry presentation.

By Sarah Hunter and Lisa Zapata

Lariat Reporters

Twelve-year-old AIDS activist Hydeia Broadbent spoke on the non-discrimination of AIDS and AIDS education Tuesday night at the Waco Convention Center.

Broadbent addressed how it feels to have AIDS and focus on how AIDS is contracted, she then answered questions from the audience.

'Baylor students should attend the program because they are in their sexual years,' said Carla Swanson of the North Waco Project Ministry.

Broadbent will make a special appearance at the North Waco Project Ministry to educate youths about how they are in a high risk category to contract AIDS, Swanson said.

'Most of these kids have never met a person with AIDS,' Swanson said. 'They can relate to her as a child and as a black person. She will stress that AIDS doesn't discriminate.'

Broadbent speaks on AIDS awareness and sensitivity to AIDS, and she has recently written a book entitled 'I Need a Friend.'

Waco Independent School District schools participated in an essay contest in which six winners spent time with Broadbent. Students are writing on the topic 'If I were Hydeia.'

'Many of the children with AIDS don't make it past their teens,' Swanson said. 'Meeting her would be an experience the students will remember forever. They can say that they knew a 12-year-old with AIDS.'

Two of the winners spoke at the Convention Center. Both young women said that they believed she was a strong, courageous person, and they just wanted to be her friend.

Swanson said she wants the students to realize that Broadbent is like other youths.

'This will give them an up-close visit with her and show them what she is like,' Swanson said.

'I'm basically a normal kid. I try to think of myself as normal,' Broadbent said.

She was born with AIDS, that she contracted from her mother, and has spent much of her time educating people about the disease.

When asked what it was like living with AIDS, Broadbent compared her life to that of a person who was born blind.

'Imagine a blind person being born blind. They don't know what it's like to see. I've had AIDS all my life. I don't know what it's like not to have AIDS.'

Broadbent had appeared on television programs such as '20/20,' 'The Sally Jesse Raphael Show' and the 'Jerry Springer Show.'

Broadbent explained the ways in which one contracts AIDS such as, blood transfusions, sexual contact, Intravenous drug use and from mother to child.

During much of her presentation, she discussed unprotected sex.

She first demonstrated the rapid spread of AIDS by making everyone shake hands, and those who shook her hand were to sit down. Then, those who shook those people's hands sit down and so on. In less than a minute, everyone in the auditorium had sat down, representing the fact that they had all received AIDS.

She explained that one could not get AIDS by shaking hands, but AIDS does spread just as quickly.

'AIDS does not discriminate,' Broadbent said.

Everyone is susceptible to AIDS by putting oneself at risk.

'AIDS is the only disease you choose to get,' Broadbent said. 'You have a choice, so make wise choices.'

This 12-year-old was not afraid to discuss issues such as sex, condoms and abstinence in a room comprised evenly divided between adults and children.

'Condoms are not 100 percent safe,' Broadbent said. 'If you're going to have sex, use condoms, but know that they are not 100 percent safe.'

As a message to young women, Broadbent emphasized the act of abstinence and protection.

'The safest sex is no sex,' she said. 'If he's not willing to use a condom, he's not worth it.'

Broadbent has also lectured at elementary schools, high schools and Bally's in Las Vegas.

She has spoken for the National Institute of Health, Think Life, Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the Black Church National Education and Training Organization.

An estimated 1,800 infants are born with the HIV infection yearly in the U.S.

It is projected that by the year 2000 more than half of newly infected adults worldwide will be women, according to the Waco Health District.

There are 159 reported cases of full blown AIDS in McLennan County for 1996. In 1995, there were 140 reported full blown cases, according to the Waco Health District.

Broadbent's brother, Kendall Franklin is actively involved with the Hydeia L. Broadbent Foundation.

The proceeds from Tuesday night's presentation will go to the North Waco Project Ministries to help promote AIDS awareness in the Villages and Parkside Village apartments, located in north Waco, where drug use is a problem, Catherine Reynolds of the City of Waco said.

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