It’s been over twenty years since the public was introduced to Hydeia Broadbent, a gorgeous cherub-faced little girl who was born with AIDS and left by her mother at the Las Vegas hospital where she was born. It was the beginning of what would be an incredibly difficult and, at times, excruciating journey. Broadbent, whose adoptive parents took her in at six weeks old, was diagnosed with AIDS at age three, her family informed that she wasn’t expected to live past age five.
Today, Broadbent is 28 years old, and she remains one of the most recognizable and esteemed faces of HIV/AIDS activism. A public speaker par excellence, whose work in social media and with universities and nonprofit organizations is both frank and endearing, Broadbent is a sought-after public figure who insights are deeply valued. But the role hasn’t been an easy one–especially financially. Broadbent has always been forthcoming about the precariousness of her financial state. The price of HIV/AIDS treatment, with its frequent tests and copious required medications, is exorbitant. Broadbent relies on government-funded medical benefits to cover the costs.
Yesterday, she took to social media to ask for help to pay for her rent, citing her benefits caseworker’s oversight in not notifying her that her benefits were changing. It was a sudden and unexpected blow for a woman on an incredibly tight budget. Broadbent has rarely, if ever, solicited financial help from her supporters–and it pained her to have to do so now. Yesterday she tweeted:
It took a lot for me to ask for help, I don’t like handouts but when it hits you that you might lose everything you humble yourself and ask for help
After doing so, it would seem that her concern about going public with her need was founded, as she was met with what is becoming requisite for online interaction, cruelty and criticism:
I caught some shade today for publicly asking for help. I could sit in silence and lose everything to no fault of my own or seek help.
Despite the backlash, Broadbent’s public appeal has raised an important and often overlooked issue: only the incredibly wealthy are not financially depressed by the high cost of HIV/AIDS. Many sufferers experience the same challenges with juggling life expenses–including food and housing–while trying to make sure that they are able to cover their medical needs. Others have reached out to Broadbent since her initial postings on Facebook and Twitter, voicing both their support and their ability to relate.
If you would like to help her save her home, you can visit her PayPal page and make a contribution here. She has until tomorrow, Wednesday, August 15, to resolve her rent issues. Here’s hoping she not only receives what she needs for housing costs, but an extra financial cushion while any other issues related to this lapse in benefits is resolved.