Young rappers from across the country performed Saturday at the Pasar Festival Arts Center in Kuningan, South Jakarta, sending a message to fellow youngsters about the dangers of HIV/AIDS.
Some 35 young rappers from 21 provinces gathered for the AIDS rap competition grand finale organized by the National Family Planning Coordinating Agency (BKKBN).
The competition, which saw singer Edo Kondologit and rap star Iwa K. among the judges, was held to mark World AIDS Day, which fell on Dec. 1.
"I mean, they're not going to listen to old people talking on a podium about what they need to know about HIV/AIDS. They're going to listen to this."
"They may still end up breaking the rules and having unprotected sex or using drugs, but at least they have listened."
Blackball's song, Watch out, talks about the importance of being aware of the dangers of the virus and, at the same time, the need to show compassion to those who have it.
Adi Raja, 20, a rapper from Pontianak, West Kalimantan, said he knew all about the discrimination that people with HIV or AIDS had to deal with as he often counseled them.
"People are scared of them, which is just so wrong as the virus is easily avoided, not like bird flu," said Adi, a former drug user.
"So, I rap instead of talking. It's my means for getting messages across and my way of fighting against that sort of attitude."
According to the latest Health Ministry's data, drug users top the list of people with HIV/AIDS in Jakarta, with more than 70 percent of 2,894 users having become infected through needle sharing.
In addition, those aged between 20 and 29 years of age accounted for over 75 percent of the total of population with HIV/AIDS.
The BKKBN's family planning division deputy director, Siswanto Agus Tilopo, told The Jakarta Post that the event would help spread the message to young people engaging in unprotected sex or using drugs.
"This event is for young people ... We feel that they can connect with rap music," he explained.
He said that although rap music was often filled with violent themes and sexual innuendo, the content of the music played during this event was different.
"What's important is disseminating the message: Don't sin any more (by engaging in promiscuity or using drugs) than you're already doing," said Siswanto. JP/anw
(*) - Picture Above: AIDS DAY: A girl is pictured among some of 1,000 inflated condoms during the World AIDS Day campaign in Jakarta on Saturday. Indonesia marked the day with the launch of its first national campaign to promote the use of condoms. (JP/R. Berto Wedhatama)