South Africa's HIV/AIDS prevention messages may be missing the mark, but Dr Terri Lynn Cohen's presentation, Sex in a Time of HIV, didn't miss many holy cows.
Wielding a guitar, some frank anecdotes and a "tell it like it is" visual presentation, Cohen told UCT medical students that HIV is the new struggle. She was a guest of the Transformation and Equity Working Group.
A dentist at the Gauteng Department of Health, Cohen had noticed a marked increase between 1991 and 2006 of "trench mouth" among patients at the Lilian Ngoyi Oral Health Clinic where she works. Trench mouth, or necrotising ulcerative gingivitis, is a symptom of HIV.
Part of her response to the HIV pandemic is to train nurses about HIV - and to use her combined experience as a clinician, stand-up comedian and musician to tackle the problem in her distinctive way.
"Prevention is working nowhere. It's failing worldwide."
Her point is underscored by sobering statistics:
Of most concern to her is that men are not getting tested, safe sex and the use of condoms is not being eroticised, and that no-one focuses on those who are HIV negative. Citing research, Cohen said 40% of married men are having affairs.
"Right now the highest risk group for HIV is married women."
Sixty-four percent of South Africans don't know their partner's sexual history.
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