Event: Women and HIV/AIDS in South Africa: Medicine, Art, Activism, 7-8 December 2015, London

7-8 December 2015

Keynes Library (43 Gordon Square),

Birkbeck, University of London, School of Arts


aquotesThe crisis of HIV/AIDS in South Africa is clearly not over. Women and children are bearing the brunt. Our symposium draws attention to the particular challenges facing women and young people living with HIV in South Africa and the strategies for overcoming these, in the context of rising levels of youth unemployment, increased violence against women and shrinking resources.

We believe that a new response is needed to meet continuing stigmatisation and disadvantage to those living with HIV in South Africa. Women are often most directly affected (mother and child transmission, economic necessities of sex-work with its increased risks and the economic and emotional responsibilities of family care). We believe that this requires a greater degree of collaboration between the clinical, therapeutic and educational. Consequently the symposium aims to provoke conversations amongst stakeholders who generally address separate audiences. Although there has been a longstanding exchange between policy makers, social scientists and medical researchers, this symposium also highlights the engagement of the humanities and visual arts as a critical component of any response to HIV/AIDS.

South Africa has historically been promoted as a model for other HIV/AIDS campaigns with Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) being hailed as ‘The world’s most effective AIDS group’ (New York Times, 2006). Consequently another aim of our symposium is to disseminate a wider understanding of the South African campaign and to provoke a discussion with health professionals, journalists and artists about the comparative relevance of those educational, self-help and communication strategies originally devised to meet the HIV challenge in the South African context.

The symposium together with the related exhibition, curated by Annie Coombes, Positive Living: Art and AIDS in South Africa at the Peltz Gallery (13 November 2015 – 14 January 2016), is intended to stimulate conversations about the material and medical realities of living with HIV amongst young BME groups and the wider African diaspora in London and to promote an inventive yet ethical response in the media.

Tickets available here.

The full program can be found here.


Conference Women and HIV/AIDS in South Africa: Medicine, Art, Activism 7 December 2015, 9am – 5.30pm. Keynes Library (43 Gordon Square), Birkbeck, University of London, School of Arts.

Public lecture ‘The Dilemma of AIDS: Persisting Problems’, by Justice Edwin Cameron, Justice of the South African Constitutional Court and Visiting Judge at the School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London, 7 December 2015 at 6pm. Clore Management Centre (Torrington Square), room B01. Book for this event on Eventbrite.

Artists’ talks with the artists from Positive Living: Art and AIDS in South Africa 8 December 2015 at 10am. Peltz Gallery (43 Gordon Square).

The symposium has received funding and support from The Wellcome Trust, The Journal of Southern African Studies, the School of Law, the Centre for Research in the Medical Humanities and the Department of History of Art at Birkbeck, University of London, and the London Southern African History Politics and Culture seminar.abquotes

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