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A young Japanese man’s song about AIDS education has become a big hit in Malawi.

Kohei Yamada wrote the lyrics and sings the song, “Ndimakukonda,” which means “I love you” in the Chewa language. The song is the result of the 26-year-old’s stint in the southern African country, working for the Japan International Cooperation Agency until March.

Malawi has an estimated HIV prevalence rate of more than 14 percent, and about 87,000 people in the country die every year of AIDS.

Yamada was shocked to see so many people dying of AIDS in Malawi. People he knew died and he saw funerals daily.

After learning that few young people take HIV tests, Yamada hoped he could help change the situation by writing a song about it.

“Malawi is a country with a deep tradition of song and dance,” he said. “The power of music can change people’s awareness.”

The song is an exchange between a man who has tested positive and his girlfriend.

Yamada wrote the lyrics and asked a local musician, who is a friend of his, to translate them into Chewa and write the music.

Local TV and radio stations started playing the upbeat melody last summer and it soon became a No. 1 hit.

The single will be released in Japan Aug. 30 and some proceeds will go to Malawi to fund such work as HIV testing.

“In the sense that HIV tests are not firmly established here, Japan is in the same situation,” Yamada said. “I’ll be happy if this song inspires people to be concerned about AIDS.”

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