Elton John Gives Kiev HIV Concert

KIEV, Ukraine -- Elton John has given a free concert in the main square of Ukraine's capital, Kiev, to promote HIV-Aids awareness. President Viktor Yushchenko and other leading politicians were among the 200,000 people attending the show.

British pop star Elton John performs at his concert in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, June 16, 2007. Sir Elton John, one of the most famous British pop artists, performed his free charity show in Ukraine's capital Kiev. The concert was aimed to support Ukrainian children suffering from HIV/AIDS. The show lasted for about 2.5 hours and took place on the central square of Kiev.

Ukraine has one of the highest HIV infection rates in Europe with a new case every 10 minutes, according to Ukraine's Anti-Aids Foundation.

The organisers said they hope the UK star's performance will help reduce ignorance surrounding the disease.

The free, open-air concert, which was broadcast live on Ukrainian TV, was the biggest ever seen in Ukraine.

The event's slogan was "Stop Aids before it stops us" and Elton John told the crowd that he would do all he could to help Ukraine in its battle against the disease.

His Aids foundation already funds 23 HIV-Aids projects in Ukraine and he said that the concert would allow them to do even more.

Before the show free condoms were handed out along with leaflets on HIV testing and counselling centres.

Boycott call

A religious group had urged Ukrainians to boycott the event, describing it as blasphemous and accusing Elton John of trying to promote a gay lifestyle.

Despite the Western outlook of Ukraine's leader, it is a conservative and predominantly Orthodox Christian country, the BBC's Helen Fawkes in Kiev says.

Even in the capital, very few men are openly gay, while lesbians are virtually invisible, our correspondent says.

An estimated 400,000 people are HIV-positive in Ukraine and it is believed that gay men make up only a small percentage of that figure.

Experts say that the disease, which was initially spread by drug-users, is now becoming widespread and that within the next decade one in 50 people in Ukraine could be HIV-positive.

Source: BBC News