Music Festivals Serving as a Catalyst for Collaborative HIV Prevention Education and Expanded HIV Testing in Rural Uganda


  • James Van Leeuwen Global Livingston Institute, Co, USA University of Colorado Denver, CO, USA Wilson Center, DC, USA
  • Humphrey Nabimanya Reach a Hand Uganda,
  • Andrew Ward Global Livingston Institute
  • Ryan Grundy
  • Mark Thrun Global Livingston Institute



HIV, rural, community development, Uganda, music festival, AIDS


From 2014 through 2016, we produced a music festival in rural Kabale, Uganda in order to facilitate HIV testing and reproductive health services offered by NGOs specializing in HIV and sexual health. Our aim was to assess the effectiveness of a music festival to engage persons in sexual health and HIV screening services. Clinical service data was compiled and analyzed. Between 2014 and 2016, over 38,000 persons attended the annual festivals and were exposed to HIV prevention messaging. Over 7,000 persons have been tested for HIV. In 2016, 4,588 HIV tests were performed. In addition, 36 long-acting means of contraception were placed, 33 women were screened for cervical cancer, 2 tubal ligations were performed, and 193 men were referred for circumcision. Music festivals created a novel opportunity to provide sexual health services including prevention education, reproductive healthcare, and HIV testing to persons at risk for HIV in rural Uganda.

Author Biography

James Van Leeuwen, Global Livingston Institute, Co, USA University of Colorado Denver, CO, USA Wilson Center, DC, USA

Jamie Van Leeuwen currently serves as the Senior Advisor for Governor Hickenlooper after working as Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Community Partnerships during the first term.  Leading up to the Hickenlooper administration, he worked as the Policy Director and served on the transition team for the Hickenlooper for Colorado gubernatorial campaign.  Through his work in local and State politics he has engaged collectively across sectors to leverage over $250 million in new resources for the public good.  He is also the CEO & Founder of the Global Livingston Institute (GLI), a non-governmental organization in East Africa designed to engage students and community leaders to develop innovative solutions to poverty and is a Senior Research Fellow with the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs.  He became a Fulbright Scholar in 2013 and a Woodrow Wilson International Fellow in 2017.     He is active as a national and international researcher and presenter.  Over 50 publications, poster presentations, lectures and keynotes include recent articles on mental health services in rural Uganda and a needs assessment of an urban slum in East Africa.   In 2017 he was named by CoBiz magazine as one of the 25 Most Powerful People in Colorado.  He is the recipient of the 2017 Urban Peak Maverick Thinker Award, the 2014 Creighton University Alumnae Merit Award, the 2009 “Judy Kaufman Civic Entrepreneurship Award” from the Denver Foundation, the 2010 Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation Alumnus of the Year, and named in the 2011 Power Issue of the Out Front magazine as a leader in Lesbian & Gay community.  Jamie has extensive international experience with travel to over 110 countries.  He is an avid runner and has participated in over a dozen competitive races including a two-time finisher of the New York City Marathon.