I just heard the news this morning that Hydeia Broadbent died yesterday at the age of 39. After being diagnosed with HIV as a child, she later became a tireless advocate for people living with HIV/AIDS and committed her life to educating others and eliminating the stigma associated with the virus.

The last time I saw Hydeia was almost nine years ago when I covered a Red Pump Project event at the Time and Life Building in New York City.

HIV/AIDS activist and Ampro ProStyl brand ambassador Hydeia Broadbent

Hydeia Broadbent nine years ago at a Red Pump Project discussion in New York City about women, girls and HIV/AIDS.

She was featured on a panel of prominent women in health care and the media there to discuss persistent misinformation and ignorance about HIV/AIDS and the need for women and girls to put their health first in relationships and to champion and support each other by engaging in candid conversations about this issue.

Hydeia and other women on the panel who were living with HIV/AIDS spoke about negotiating dating and intimate relationships and how the virus affected their day-to-day lives. An Ampro ProStyl brand ambassador at the time, Hydeia was fashion personified in a stunning red dress with a lacy crimson overlay. The dynamic activist wore sky-high, red cut-out pumps that added a few more inches to her petite frame when she stood.

That evening Hydeia shared her story with an audience as she’d done innumerable times before since she’d started speaking publicly at age 6 about her life with HIV/AIDS.

Through the years she stayed true to her commitment to keep hope alive for people living with the virus while also raising awareness about HIV/AIDS. I am saddened by her death and in awe of her lifelong dedication to this cause. When our paths crossed and we interacted, she touched my life with her infectious energy, positive outlook, and generous spirit. I will always remember the warmth of her smile.

My sincere condolences to Hydeia’s family and friends.