Mother of Gigi and Bella Hadid says Lyme disease is comparable to HIV

By Shannon Molloy

Yolanda, pictured with her daughter Gigi Hadid, is determined to find a cure for Lyme disease. Photo / Getty Images
Yolanda, pictured with her daughter Gigi Hadid, is determined to find a cure for Lyme disease. Photo / Getty Images

Reality star and celebrity mum Yolanda Hadid has compared Lyme disease to HIV in an emotional appearance at an event in Sydney.

The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills personality and former model is in Australia to promote Channel Nine's new digital portal for women, Honey.

Speaking at a star-studded event, where the site was officially launched, Hadid became tearful while talking about her own battle with the disease.


"We all pull together so beautifully for HIV," Hadid said.

"Lyme is three times more prevalent right now, it's a world-wide epidemic, the first case was diagnosed in 1972... yet we haven't done anything about it."

Since its outbreak, HIV-AIDS has killed an estimated 35 million people globally. Around the same number currently live with the disease worldwide.

Fatality rates for Lyme disease are difficult to measure however the Centre For Disease Control in the US analysed health records from 45 states and found 114 deaths between 1999 and 2003.

Sydney GP Dr Brad McKay said Ms Hadid's comparison was a long bow, with the two not on par.

"If HIV isn't treated, people die. If Lyme Disease isn't treated, then people can feel unwell for a very long time," McKay said.

It was rare for Lyme disease to cause mortality, he said, and it's "easily treated with antibiotics" if diagnosed early enough.

"If it's not diagnosed, then it can cause damage to many different parts of the human body."

Nic Holas, founder of The Institute of Many, a grassroots movement for people living with HIV, said comparisons between diseases were understandable but ultimately unhelpful.

"We should be wary of falling into the numbers game," Holas said.

Yolanda Hadid and Bella Hadid attend Global Lyme Alliance's 2016 United For A Lyme-Free World Gala, at Cipriani. Photo / AP
Yolanda Hadid and Bella Hadid attend Global Lyme Alliance's 2016 United For A Lyme-Free World Gala, at Cipriani. Photo / AP

"Any chronic condition needs people to step forward and put themselves forward. Ms Hadid is absolutely correct that the HIV response has written the book on involving people living with the condition in the response to it.

"There's so much that other communities living with conditions have learnt from how people with HIV demand treatment, cure, research and most importantly social acceptance. "If she and the Hadid family want to get in touch with any organisation, including mine, we'd be more than happy to share our insights."

Hadid's supermodel daughter Bella also suffers from Lyme disease, which her mum said ended the 20-year-old's hopes of being an Olympic-level equestrian rider.

Thank you to my beautiful mother for all that you do @yolanda.hadid for me & @globallymealliance

A photo posted by Bella Hadid (@bellahadid) on


"It's something she worked for her whole life but she got too sick and her brain was too effected to continue that journey," she said.

"She re-tracked, we treated her, and she moved in another direction. Thank God it worked out the way it did.

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"But Bella is still suffering every day. That's what motivates me. We must finds a cure. Nobody deserves to live a debilitating life."

She and sister Gigi both represent the brand Victoria's Secret, among others.

- news.com.au

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