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Queen + Paul Rodgers Break Records at Specials AIDS Concert To Support Ukraine’s ANTIAIDS Foundation

Ushering in the start of their massive European tour which is now underway with the first concerts in Moscow on Monday and Tuesday, Queen + Paul Rodgers made a mighty impact this past weekend with a special one-off concert to support the ANTIAIDS campaign in the Ukraine.

Playing an awareness-raising outdoor concert in Kharkov’s Freedom Square, the second largest Square in Europe, at the event supported by Queens’ own HIV AIDS charity, The Mercury Phoenix Trust, and organized by the Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation, the show by Queen + Paul Rodgers attracted more than 350,000 to see the overture concert for its 33-city tour of Europe and immediately entered the record books as the biggest charity event devoted to the fight against AIDS in the Ukraine.

Even more extraordinary was the numbers of television viewers reached by Queen + Paul Rodgers – official figures released today by the ANTIAIDS Foundation confirm that in addition to the massive audience drawn to the event, a further 10 million Ukrainians joined the concert via the live television broadcast on the country’s national Noviy channel, the largest for any music event in the country’s history.

Coming just a week after the birthday of their lost lead singer — Freddie Mercury, who died of AIDS in 1991 — the concert aimed to reinforce the message of the Ukrainian ANTIAIDS Foundation of the urgent need to tackle head-on the growing threat of HIV AIDS infection in the country.

Over the last few years Ukraine has continuously been the country with the highest rate of HIV prevalence in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. According to recent national estimates the HIV prevalence rate is 1.63% among the adult population (age 15-49) which corresponds with a figure of 440,000 HIV-infected. Official data of new registered cases shows an annual increase in new cases of 10 % compared to previous years. Every day 52 people are diagnosed with HIV, 8 people dies of AIDS in Ukraine.

The country also has reported the highest HIV prevalence in Europe (0.52%) among pregnant women, and a continuous increase of AIDS-related mortality (from 4.6 per 100,000 in 2005 to 5.4 per 100,000 in 2007) proof that efforts made to date were not enough.

Through its work with its own Mercury Phoenix Trust – set up in memory of lead singer Freddie Mercury – and through its ongoing support for Nelson Mandela’s 46664 charitable organization, the members of Queen remain at the forefront of HIV Aids awareness campaigning.

Post-show a visibly moved Brian May, Roger Taylor and Paul Rodgers gave their accounts of the experience of the Kharkov concert, with Brian May saying: “Our show in Kharkov was an unforgettable experience … one of those rare things in life which you know you will never forget. It was a meeting in Music, but also a fateful coming together to fight a common enemy … HIV AIDS.... we felt privileged to be part of this pivotal point in Ukraine’s journey …”

Roger Taylor: “We would like to say a big thank you to the people of the Ukraine in giving Queen such a wonderful welcome after so many years. We hope the concert helped to bring a message of awareness of the terrible threat of HIV/AIDS to all the people! We have suffered the great loss of our dear singer Freddie Mercury – we hope this kind of loss does not happen to you. Be kind to yourselves – be careful – be alive!”

And from Paul Rodgers: “To all who came out and rocked with us thank you. We believe that our Aids Awareness message was received by 20 million! Hopefully we touched those hearts and minds and I pray that it makes a difference.”

A note of thanks from the Ukraine ANTIAIDS Organisation received along with confirmation of the event numbers reads: “Thank you for being in the lives of millions of Ukrainians on that chilly September day, you’re the Champions of the world!”.

Now underway, with concerts this coming weekend in Latvia and Germany, the band concert tour takes Queen + Paul Rodgers throughout Europe until mid-October when the band will play 11 dates across the UK before going on to a historic return to South America. It concludes with a concert late November in Rio de Janeiro.

Queen + Paul Rodgers released their first album recorded together, The Cosmos Rocks, this week. It is Queen’s first new studio work for almost fifteen years.

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