Hydeia Broadbent became somewhat of a mini-celebrity 20 years ago as a seven-year-old when she appeared on a Nickelodeon AIDS special. She appeared on the show with basketball great and HIV-positive athlete Magic Johnson — she had been diagnosed with AIDS, basically believed at the time to be a death sentence. She is still alive, and is a public-speaking dynamo. As an early recipient of anti-viral treatments that made AIDS a livable disease, one might expect her to be one of the many who reiterate their positive experiences having the disease, also inadvertently pooh-poohing the seriousness of the disease.

Not her. She does the opposite. She lays bare the consequences of having the disease, in order to encourage people to abstain from behaviors that might lead them to acquire it. She explained in a story for CNN: “If you’re HIV-negative, I would say ‘Stay that way.’ If you’re positive, I would say, ‘There’s life after a positive test, but it is a hassle.’”

As she told CNN last year, what she accomplishes in a day depends on how she feels:

There are days when Hydeia can’t get out of bed. Sometimes she is so sick her mornings are spent with her head hung over the toilet.

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