Hydeia Broadbent’s biological sister and adoptive father speak out on the start of her journey

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Hydeia Broadbent celebrated her life to the end — without apologies. She died unexpectedly on Tuesday, Feb. 20, leaving behind a life’s work that reduced the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS.

Video of Hydeia celebrating her birthday shows her smiling in a room filled with what she knew best — love. It was that same love that helped her change the conversation surrounding HIV, according to her biological sister, Kimberly McCoy, and father, Loren Broadbent.

Hydeia, who was born with the virus that causes AIDS, was very young when she started speaking out about AIDS in the early 1990s at a time when patients were shunned.

8 News Now anchor Ozzy Mora sat down with Hydeia’s sister and her adoptive father, who shared her legacy and offered more about Hydeia’s roots.

Loren said Hydeia was a natural at talking about it. “She would walk around in the waiting room with a little microphone, and walk up to the kids and ask them, ‘How do you feel about this?’ “

She used that same little microphone to be seen and heard. At just 7 years old, Hydeia appeared with Earvin “Magic” Johnson on Nickelodeon, telling the audience, “I just want people to know we are just normal people.”

That’s when she became a national symbol in the fight against HIV, appearing on TV shows for years.

“I’m very thankful of that people have been accepting — not everyone — but many people are very accepting of me and welcoming. But I have to think about those who are not public.

Her message: People living with AIDS are everyday people like you and me.

But behind every person, there’s always another story. Kimberley McCoy spoke publicly about her sister for the first time.

“Everybody, and even the Broadbents, they were told that Hydeia was abandoned by my mother. My mother did not abandon Hydeia. My mother was a heroin IV drug user,” McCoy said.

She remembers last seeing Hydeia when she was 4 to 6 months old. But because of her mother’s drug addiction, Hydeia couldn’t go back home.

Over the years, Kimberley developed a relationship with her sister and the Broadbents. They stood together when they lost Hydeia, and plan to continue spreading her messages about HIV and AIDS.

The HIV epidemic isn’t over it doesn’t get much publicity these days. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

“I think it could be a bad thing,” Kimberley said. “I know people personally who are afraid to get tested.”

“I agree,” Loren said. “It’s something that Hydeia spoke up until her death.”

And the most powerful voice for HIV awareness — a little girl leaving us what we all need through our darkest times. Her words during an interview with Oprah Winfrey will forever capture her spirit.

“You never know, if you stay in your bed and feel sorry for yourself and don’t get up with the birds and just sit there saying, ‘I’m going to die,’ why get up and try and make a difference? But when you say today is another day I can get up and do something, make something positive.”

The family tells 8 News Now Hydeia was in good spirits leading up to her passing. They are still waiting for an official medical report to learn the exact cause of her death.

The family will be holding a public vigil Sunday, March 3, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at 931 W. Lake Mead Blvd. in Las Vegas. There will be a public viewing on Wednesday, March 6, at the Davis Mortuary from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

A GoFundMe was set up by her father Loren. If you would like to help the family, click here.

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