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:

Adopted Brothers are Pediatric HIV/AIDS Ambassadors

This article is from Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Lee and Lucas are ambassadors for the foundation.

Children adopted with HIV

My name is Lucas, and I have a brother named Lee. We’re both 11 years old and are living with HIV. We didn’t know we were HIV-positive until one day last summer, when my mom told us why we had to take so much medicine and why we went to the doctor so often.

When I heard of HIV for the first time, I had no idea what it was. My mom showed us books with pictures of the virus and taught us about how it attacks our immune systems. Knowing I was HIV-positive seemed scary at first, but it soon began to make sense. My mom told Lee and me that we got HIV from our biological mothers, who passed it on to us in the womb. It is hard to live with HIV, but I know it will never go away. Now, the only choice is to take all my meds and keep the virus at bay. Some of our meds taste absolutely awful. As bad as it seems to live with HIV, I realize how lucky we are to live in a dedicated family and place where we get good care.
Hopefully someday soon, there will be a cure for HIV. Until then, the most important thing we can do is eliminate pediatric AIDS by preventing the transmission of HIV from moms to their children. We can eliminate it if we raise money, educate people who don’t understand, and help the moms and kids that need it.

I dream of a world free of HIV so no other kids have to become a victim of this virus.

You can order holiday cards designed by Lee and Lucas to benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Help Save an Angel with HIV

This is Olivia, one of the precious little ones I met at an AIDS Orphanage in the spring. She is darling! She is affectionate and loving and talkative and sweet as can be. And she has a family coming for her! I’m so excited that Olivia will know the love of a family and have access to excellent medical care. Her parents have been diligently raising funds and compiling the adoption paperwork and they have just reached a major milestone – submitting the final dossier to Olivia’s country. From their blog:

This sweet little 3 year old is Olivia.  She currently lives in an Eastern Europe orphanage for children who are diagnosed with HIV.  Olivia does not have a future in her native country due to her orphan status and her diagnosis.  At the age of 4 she will be sent off to a “boarding school.”  When she ages out at the age of 16, she will be kicked out and left to fend for herself on the streets. Sadly, many emancipated orphans end up sleeping in the sewers.  She will be jobless and homeless as her HIV and Orphan status will follow her forever.  She has no family to take care of her and no means to pay for the very expensive medications that will keep her alive and healthy.

We are very blessed in our country to have wonderful medical care and medications.  HIV is not a death sentence.  It can easily be managed here in the US.  Olivia can live to old age and have grand children some day.  There is no risk to other children around her at school, sports, or at home.  She can share a cupcake with her brother and he can kiss her when she is feeling sad.  Please look at her picture, can you see her on the streets?  Or can you picture her in a loving family with critters to chase and acres of woods to explore?  She will enrich the lives of those around her and she will help us squash the stigma that HIV still carries to this day.

Our family decided to adopt after we suffered our last pregnancy loss.  We were drawn to the children on Reece’s Rainbow and in particular, the children with HIV.  We fell in love with little Olivia and committed to adopt her.  We have $7k left to raise friends, and we need to ask for help.  Feel free to post our blog link anywhere, or copy and paste our CHIP IN button and put it on your blog.  You can even make a tax deductible donation thru Reece’s Rainbow (www.reecesrainbow.org/sponsorstern.htm).

If 200 people donated $35 each, we will have reached our goal.  Please help spread the word. If you can donate at least $20, you will receive a key chain.  If you can donate $35 or more you will receive a tote bag (pictured left).  Thank you for helping to save an angel with HIV!