What appeared to some to be nothing more than a rap concert for teens turned out to be an eye-opening experience for thousands of young adults in the community who got results, and education, that can save many lives to come.
More than 15,000 young adults were treated to a free concert just for “knowing their status.” The fourth annual Hip Hop 4 HIV concert was held Saturday, July 31 at Houston’s Reliant Center.
The concert was free to the public, but with just one catch—attendees had to be tested and educated about HIV, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, including Syphilis, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia.
The concept started when former State Representative Borris Miles reached out to other prominent figures in an effort to combat the rising HIV and AIDS epidemic in the African American and Latino communities. He collaborated with 97.9 The Box and the City of Houston and an idea was formed to provide a free concert for those willing to be tested.
Clinic sites were spread out across the Houston area offering free testing to anyone between the ages of 13 to 40 years old, and thousands flooded the clinic for the opportunity to see their favorite performers for free.
“We did not know how big it was going to be when we first started,” said the Madd Hatta, host of 97.9 The Box’s Madd Hatta Morning show. “The sad thing about it is we are going to have to continue to do it because the problem is growing.”
In order to get the “golden ticket,” they had to go through a four-hour process of being tested, getting educated and getting referred to the proper medical professionals, if needed.
“What I love about the program is not only do they get tested, they get educated,” Hatta said and added the ticket is not received until the status is known. “No, you are not just going to get tested and walk away with a ticket. You have to go through the whole process and after you know your status, your access is granted.”