Cody Dyer: Meet Maryland Health and Hip Hop Conference co-organizer
Coronado “Cody Lopez” Dyer, Jr., non-medical case manager for transgender youth at the STAR TRACK (Special Teens At-Risk, Together Reaching Access, Care and Knowledge) program at the University of Maryland and the program coordinator for Safe Experiences Xcite Me (S.EX. Me) at Morgan State’s counseling center.
One in a series on the Health and Hip Hop Conference, sponsored by the Black AIDS Institute and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The conference will be held Oct. 24, 2015, at Morgan State University in Baltimore.
Coronado “Cody” Lopez Dyer Jr. knows what it’s like to be young, Black, male and same-gender loving and to feel disenfranchised.
Estranged from his family because of his sexual orientation—”same-gender loving with a pinch of pansexuality”—Dyer dropped out of Morgan State University in 2009 because he could no longer pay tuition or take out student loans. To survive, the Waldorf, Md., native couch-surfed and engaged in sex work. Lured one day by a community health center’s promise to pay him $50, Lopez got tested for HIV—but did not return to get the results. Workers tracked him down six months later to tell him that he was negative. But the good news didn’t last.
Dyer tested positive in 2012 after acquiring the virus from his “second real boyfriend.” “We weren’t using condoms,” he says. Back then, “there weren’t nearly the same number of services doing outreach for young Black men like me.”
He began treatment immediately, beginning with a regimen of Reyataz, Truvada and Norvir and, eventually, Stribild. His viral load reached undetectable levels within three months.
Today Dyer is a nonmedical case manager for transgender youths through Baltimore’s STAR TRACK (Special Teens at-Risk, Together Reaching Access, Care and Knowledge) program and a program coordinator for the SEX Me (Safe Experiences Xcite Me) initiative through Morgan State’s counseling center; he even has his own consulting firm.
He is also an organizer of the Health and Hip Hop Conference, a one-day symposium to empower young Black males to take control of their sexual and overall health and encourage others to do the same.
“In Maryland and in Baltimore, in particular, Black male youth ages 12-24 are at the highest risk of seroconverting to HIV,” he says, noting that their rate of new infections is rising as others’ rates are falling. “Most of the time, when they test positive they’re being diagnosed with AIDS.”