In exchange for taking a free rapid HIV test, thousands of Lusaka residents got a chance to dance, enjoy music and food, and have a good time well into the night in an open arena at the “Zed Me Free, A Concert to end HIV” on Nov. 28 in Zambia.
The event, organized by The Muchimba Music Foundation and local partners, kicked off a couple of weeks prior to the concert, with a series of testing “roadshows” provided by AIDS Healthcare Foundation Zambia – mobile clinics offering rapid HIV testing, condoms and linkage to care for HIV positive clients, and free tickets to the “Zed me Free” concert. In the lead up to the main event and during the concert, over 10,000 people got tested for HIV.
“The concert started at 2 p.m. and went on until 1 a.m., with unprecedented demand for HIV testing,” said Dr. Penninah Iutung, AHF Africa Bureau Chief. “This kind of free event has never happened in Zambia, it was great opportunity to draw a crowd and make testing conveniently available. We saw a lot of young people having a great time.”
The concert was headlined by Thomas Muchimba Buttenschøn, a renowned Danish musician and co-founder of The Muchimba Music Foundation who was born HIV positive. Through music and his foundation, Buttenschøn spreads the message of positivity and hope as he travels to and performs around the world.
Other top talent from Africa included Macky 2, Mampi, Afunka, Chef 187 and B Flow, among others. A local radio station, Hot FM covered the concert live from the event venue. Representatives from the Ministry of Health attended the concert and praised the organizers for an outstanding event with a positive public health message.
“Music is a universal language that can overcome fear and stigma, and give people a sense of hope and strength, that’s why combining this concert with easily accessible free rapid testing has proven to be such a success,” said Francis Kasonde, Prevention Programs Manager for AHF Zambia.