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International HIV/AIDS activists share their experiences at Southern University

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POSTED: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 11:02pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 1:27pm

"I use my life as a cautionary tale," said HIV activist, Hydeia Broadbent. 
"You have to make a fundamental decision--how long you want to live or how soon you want to die," added fellow activist, Rev. Rae Lewis-Thornton.

While those are two somewhat different approaches on living, there is one aspect in common.

They are both women who are HIV positive.  Not only are they HIV positive, they are living with AIDS.  And along with the dozens who attended "Changing the Faces of AIDS" at Southern University Tuesday, they hope to change lives.

Broadbent said, "I never really knew how much my message was really reaching people until I did a talk show in Canada. She had actually found out she was HIV positive through rape and pregnant." "She wanted to commit suicide until she heard my story," said Broadbent, between tears.

Lewis-Thornton said, "With the expectation was that I would die in three years, I went public and who knew?! I started [when] someone asked me locally at a high school."

It didn't stop there. Both women have gone on to speak through national platforms--Oprah, Essence, and 20/20, just to name a few.  The pair stressed that HIV doesn't discriminate.

"I was adopted at six weeks old and my mother was an IV drug user who infected herself and passed it on to me," said Broadbent.

"I donated blood, and what I thought was a thank you letter was a letter telling me something was wrong with my blood," added Lewis-Thornton.

And with tears, and a little laughter too, the survivors shared their stories. And instead of looking at only the statistic, they encouraged others to see the faces behind them instead."

"Don't do it alone, get some support," urged Lewis-Thornton. 

To learn more about Rev. Rae Lewis-Thornton's story, visit: raelewisthornton.com  For more about Hydeia Broadbent's story, go to: hydeiabroadbent.com

For information about local HIV/AIDS support, visit http://www.batonrougeaidssociety.org 

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