Hydeia Broadbent Interview

I interviewed Hydeia Broadbent and published the post on my old blog in February 2009. It’s not an active link anymore so I’m republishing the interview here with a few extras.

 

Interview With Hydeia Broadbent

Hydeia ~ Thank you so much for this opportunity to interview you. I admire you and your family so much. Your story is fascinating to me, as this website is all about finding homes, families and sponsorship for children with HIV/AIDS. To my knowledge, you may have been one of the very first babies in the United States born with HIV and adopted. What year were you born? Also, do you or did you know of any others born before you who had HIV and were adopted or fostered?

I was born in 1984 to a woman who was addicted to intravenous drugs. I was left in the hospital and turned over to the state of Nevada.  My family was told I was the first child born with HIV in the state of Nevada.  I don’t know of any children born before me who were adopted. My mother worked together with parents of children born after me to start a daycare center for children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

You and your family have been very open about your HIV status since you were first born, which was extremely rare in the 1980s and 1990s. Did you ever feel upset that your parents didn’t give you a ‘choice’ about disclosure?

I feel my parents made the right choice because I’ve seen so many kids my age dealing with depression and trying to cover up lies because they were keeping secrets about why they were at the hospital or why they were taking medicine. Being public showed our family who was loyal and which friends weren’t quite as trustworthy. Take me as I am! Being public made it easier for me as an adult dealing with dating because I never had to sit someone down and have the “ I have AIDS speech.” They already knew what they were getting into…well somewhat!

Things were much different 25 years ago then they are today, and although the stigma is still great, I can’t imagine how it was when you were growing up. Would you mind sharing any stories about how you were treated and how that compares with a child growing up with HIV now?

For me growing up, I really did not face any problems which I can remember. My mother and father dealt with some things, like my kindergarten teacher spraying me with bleach because I sneezed and she mistakenly thought the virus was air born! In another incident, people changed seats on an airplane because I told them I had AIDS after they nosily asked why I was taking medicine.  My mother played it off and said “oh look we have an extra seat – now we can stretch out and get some sleep”. My parents never made a big deal of things when people were acting weird because they did not want me to feel like something was wrong with me.

Do you remember any doctor’s predictions on how long your life expectancy would be? What is your prognosis now?

My prognosis now if fine; I just have to take care of myself and stay on top of my medicine and eat well.  When I was three, the doctors told my parents I would not make it past the age of five! I even coded blue a few times, but after living past what the doctors feared would be my final days, we decided that no one really knows when your time is up until your time is up.

You must have been involved in many clinical and drug trials? How have you handled all the medication over the years? Do you get pill fatigue? Have you been able to take a ‘break’ from meds?
Some people who are infected with HIV/AIDS are able to not take medication for a while without any real health problems but I am not one of them. I tried taking a break a few years ago but my viral load got too high.  When I was younger, taking medicine was something I always did and never knew anything different so I did not complain about taking pills until I got older and wanted a break. Now I would rather take pills everyday instead of being in the hospital and kept from my everyday life.
I understand you have been an AIDS activist since you were very young. Can you tell us about that experience?
I love being an activist and using my voice and life to try and help as many people as I can. I am willing to work with as many people as possible because my story might stop someone from becoming infected. Also if I can help someone who just found out they are infected or a person who may be sick and depressed and feel like giving up, I find it gives hope to people to look at my life and see that I am 25 and no one believed I would be here today!  Over the years I have gone to so many places I cannot name them all, and I have been on all types of television shows and in magazines, but what I love most is speaking to youth and answering questions they have which they do not feel they can ask their parents.

How old were you when you started dating? Can you tell us a bit about the transition of becoming a teenager, an adult and how HIV relates to an already confusing time of adolescence and dating?

I really did not date much when I was a teenager because I was traveling and going to various conferences. I only went to a public high school for my senior year so that kept me from the drama most teens go through at that age. My first boyfriend was when I was about 16 and we dated for about a year and he traveled with me a few times.  I have been with my present boyfriend on and off since 2003. He travels with me when he can and he comes to my doctor appointments with me and picks up my prescriptions for me when I do not feel well or when I am traveling. He is a big part of my everyday life.
Do you think you might have a family some day?
I believe I will give birth to a child in a few years when I own a home and have some more money saved, then maybe a year or two later I would like to adopt a child because so many kids here in America need homes.

Have you ever had any problems receiving medical care including medications? I think some people worry that their adopted children will have comprehensive coverage until they are 18, yet are concerned about health insurance as they become adults.
No I have been okay with receiving health care and getting my medications but I have had close calls before where I was unsure if I was going to be able to get health care. Sometimes it is very scary when wondering where you are going to get health care or help paying for medication, but there are now so many outreach programs and centers that provide help or can point you in the right direction.

Hydeia Broadbent was one of the earliest pediatric HIV patients at a time when only a handful of children had the infection. At the time, AIDS was just being named and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, had not yet been discovered. To date, about 9,000 children have contracted the virus from their mothers in the United States and more than 2.3 million worldwide. Hydeia is a living testament to the incredible progess that has been made in HIV research and treatment. More information about Hydeia’s life can be found in the mother/daughter memoir You Get Past The Tears (synopsis) and you can also see her on Extreme Home Makeover. She can be reached through HydeiaBroadbent.com.  Many thanks to Ms. Broadbent for her time and for her honesty and insight.  I hope that this interview will show the excellent quality of life of people born with HIV and lead some adults to a child with HIV in need of parental care.

Here are the extras:

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