The OK- PEPFAR First Street Stage in central Harare was on Thursday a hive of activity with scores of hundreds of people queuing for HIV testing as well as receive health information on Wednesday.
The platform, operating under the theme “Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free,” is part of the ongoing Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA 2017) and provides a unique opportunity for health service providers to meet members of the public while musicians from the HIFA line-up and other entertainers provide free performances.
“The entertainment has been flowing and a lot of people that meet our partners have gone on to get tested,” said Gay Nyakwende, PEPFAR Communications Coordinator.
He added, “We learnt from the experience of 2014 and our partner, Population Services International- Zimbabwe, has provided more testing sites.”
The stage performance was colorful with many artists providing top notch entertainment to members of the public some who may not be able to attend HIFA shows at the Harare Gardens.
Noni Catherine Mudzinga, a female Krumper, Afropop and Hip Hop dancer with Jibilika Dance Trust said she and her staff were enjoying communicating the HIV and AIDS message using art.
She said they were using the platform to recruit members for their dance classes that include providing wellness information to young people.
“We have managed to recruit a big following of young people using break dancing,” said the Strictly Girls choreographer.
Her organization, partnering with PEPFAR to implement the ‘Step Up to HIV’ program, brought five female dancers to entertain the crowd.
However, Coordinator of the HealthCare Associated Tuberculosis Infection Prevention Project – Zimbabwe (HATIPP-Zim), Tendai Jubekanda said it was regrettable that they did not have TB screening equipment on site.
“We are promoting TB infection control among health care workers and communities, if they test positive for tuberculosis they should also test for HIV, and vice versa because the two are related,” she said adding that they were encouraging members of the public to use simple methods of preventing the spread of TB such as opening windows in public transport and church buildings.
To reinforce messages about TB prevention, HIFA 2017 will be screening the feature film, Lucky Specials on Thursday May 4th from 12.30 pm to 2.30 pm and Sunday May 7th at 3.15 pm at Studio 4. The film was produced with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and PEPFAR in partnership with the Discovery Learning Alliance, Quizzical Pictures, Wellcome Trust, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, and Management Sciences for Health (MSH). The film premiered in Harare on March 9.