Feature Story

Giant agriculture show in Zambia breaks new ground with HIV prevention efforts

06 August 2014

Among the cattle, helicopters and bands, the 88th Agricultural and Commercial Show of Zambia lived up to its 2014 theme: “Breaking new ground”—with a lively HIV prevention exhibit.

The trade show served as the stage for UNAIDS and its partners to reach young people with information and services aimed at preventing sexually transmitted infections and HIV.

Each day, more than 80 000 young people attended the trade show, which was held in Lusaka from 30 July to 4 August 2014.  

The UNAIDS office in Zambia brought together popular bands and service providers so that young people could get information on sexual reproductive health and services in an adolescent friendly way. 

Bands from Lusaka and provinces across the country drew large crowds with fun and energetic performances. Musicians playing at the Band Stand, the most popular arena among youth, delivered prevention messages. They also promoted individual responsibility for protecting themselves and their partners.

“The success of our joint initiative highlights that when young people can act immediately on the messages they hear and access services, they are more than willing to do so,” said Helen Frary, UNAIDS Country Director for Zambia. “Providing these services in an environment they identify with can go a long way in stopping stigma.”

Voluntary counselling and testing services and male and female condoms were readily available near the stage. Led by the United Nations Population Fund, the Condomize! campaign drew attention to the fact that a low rate of condom use is one of the reasons behind HIV infections in Zambia. More than 120 000 condoms were distributed free of charge with UNAIDS support.

“It is refreshing to see young people taking condoms without fear or diffidence,” said Clementine Mumba of the Condomize! campaign.  

More than 1096 people got counselling and testing through the Society for Family Health and the Community for HIV/AIDS Mobilization Program. The number of people who received counselling and testing exceeded expectations, with providers running out of test kits midway through the last day of the event.

The United Nations Children’s Fund called on adolescents and young people present at the event to join its Zambia U-Report SMS platform and interact with counsellors via text messages on issues related to sexual health and HIV. New members topped 2200.