Music is the medium the Meghalaya AIDS Control Society has chosen to speak about the dreaded disease.
The event, titled, Meghalaya Icon, will be a music contest, the winner of which will be the brand ambassador and spokesperson for the AIDS Control Society.
The Meghalaya Icon will be held on March 27 and will offer talented musical groups of the state a much needed platform for artistic expression, said Keith Wallang, an organiser of the event.
The winner of the contest will get a prizemoney of Rs 1 lakh followed by Rs 30,000 for the first runner-up and Rs 20,000 for the second runner-up.
All bands, cultural and music troupes from the state can compete for the event.
Some of the participating bands have already got themselves tested to lead by example. HIV and AIDS, if diagnosed at an early stage, can be treated and even people living with the virus can live a long and productive life, Wallang added.
In addition to the group prizes, Rs 10,000 each will be given for the best singer, guitar player, bass player, drummer, rhythm or keyboard player and the opportunity to perform at all the events and festivals that the Meghalaya AIDS control Society will sponsor through the year.
It is not only their music which will be judged on the day of the contest but also their attitude towards the victims of HIV-AIDS, Wallang said.
Participants will have to face an interview with the judges on March 27 morning, before the event starts in the afternoon. Preliminary competitions will be held in Shillong on March 25 and 26 where all the participating bands from the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo hills will gather.
Later, two bands each from the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo hills will be selected for the grand finale, to be held at the Laban Sports Club Ground in Shillong.
All bands will have to choose or compose a special song on HIV-AIDS, besides their regular songs.
As part of the competition, it has been made mandatory that all participants visit the drop-in centre of the Meghalaya State Network for Positive People at Lachumiere, Shillong and at the different integrated counselling and testing centres.
This will help promote attitudinal change towards HIV-AIDS and particularly towards people living with HIV, Wallang said.
Official statistics reveal that till January this year, 217 people, including nine children, tested positive for HIV-AIDS in the state.