Maryland’s four historically Black colleges and universities, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DHMH) Prevention and Health Promotion Administration and the Black AIDS Institute are sponsoring Black Lives Matter: Health and Hip-Hop, a culturally-grounded conference providing real talk about sex, sexuality and HIV/AIDS on Saturday, October 24, 2015.
The all-day event will be held at Morgan State University Student Union. The conference will blend essential health messaging with a mix of expression that reflects lived experiences of many young Black men for decades. Hip-hop music has long influenced and shaped perceptions about health, sex, drinking, dating, masculinity and a number of other important topics. The conference will harness hip-hop’s candor to address sexual behavior, masculinity and the influence of hip-hop on the health of Black men. The other university sponsors are Bowie State University, Coppin State University, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
During this free one-day conference, students will learn the latest in Hiv science and treatment, will critique top trending hip-hop songs and will develop a youth-driven strategy that supports the sexual health of young Black men in Maryland. This proactive health-engagement approach aims to highlight gender-specific Hiv and STI prevention by focusing on young Black men.
“We believe understanding both the science and the cultural context of Hiv is critically important for both treatment and prevention. In Maryland, among those newly diagnosed with HIV, the proportion of those ages 20 to 29 nearly doubled — from 16 percent in 2003 to 31 percent in 2012,” said, Jeffrey Hitt, director of the Infectious Disease Prevention and Health Services Bureau at DHMH. With the success of the movie Straight Outta Compton, we are reminded of the words of rapper Eric “Eazy-E” Wright: “I just feel I’ve got thousands and thousands of young fans that have to learn about what’s real when it comes to AIDS.”
The Black Lives Matter: Health and Hip-Hop conference is particularly timely on the heels of a special VH1 roundtable discussion on the reality of being openly gay in the hip-hop community moderated by T.J. Holmes with the cast of Love and Hip-Hop airing on Monday, October 19 at 11:00 pm ET/PT.
The Health and Hip-Hop conference is free and open to Black men ages 18-29. Conference attendees will receive Black Lives Matter: Health and Hip-Hop-branded t-shirts, caps and hoodies. Attendees will also be entered in a free raffle to win a 2016 Kia Forte from Car Pros Kia of Carson and a free ten-day trip to Durban, South Africa.