Students gathered in the Alumni Memorial Building to listen to HIV survivor, Hydeia Broadbent, speak about HIV and its relevance in student life on Tuesday, Feb. 28.
HIV is at its most dangerous when it isn’t talked about and properly identified to students in colleges and high schools, according to Broadbent.
“The first step to prevention for HIV negatives is to talk about it. The most dangerous part of HIV is being uneducated about it,” said Broadbent.
Broadbent was born with HIV, but wasn’t diagnosed with HIV until it had progressed to AIDS at the age of 3. Shortly after being diagnosed herself, it was discovered that her entire biological family was infected.
Instead of feeling insecure about it, she has been from very proactive with her doctor in spreading awareness and a message of hope through her own experiences by talking about it.
“It started when I was clearly proactive about it with my doctor. Eventually, he was like, ‘Do you want to come with me to give lectures about it on a first hand basis?’ Of course, I was totally for it,” Hydeia said.
Hydeia recommended a bi-yearly Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) examination for sexually active people, and a yearly STI examination for those who aren’t sexually active. She told her story as a story of survival and self-education.
“The biggest concern with those infected with HIV AIDS is actually not the disease itself, but the weakening of the immune system that follows. Any disease can be deadly for someone with HIV, so whenever someone sneezes or coughs in front of me and doesn’t cover their mouth, I’m like… ‘Get away’,” Broadbent joked.
The remainder of her talk was a message of hope to HIV positive people. Recommendations ranged from living a normal life, to doing anything possible to alleviate pain and reduce possibility of infection. Hydeia encouraged openness and honesty about status, in order to ensure safety and happiness for both negative and positive status people.
HIV and AIDS awareness day is March 10. For more information on HIV and what signs to look for, visit this website.
Edited by Kaitlin Flippo
Featured Image by Thomas Ferrell