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Exhibitions

REPERCEIVING HIV/AIDS (working title)


BACKGROUND AND RATIONALE

AIDS - Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome - is perhaps the greatest medical, social, political and economic challenge facing the world, and especially developing nations, in the 21st century. It is the most urgent public health issue in South Africa today. HIV/AIDS is globally more widespread and in its impact more devastating than the Black Death which, 700 years ago, changed the course of development and history in Europe. Those infected with HIV are blamed and stigmatised.

Considerable material documents and comments on the nature of this impact: academic articles and books, conference proceedings and newsletters, photographs, newspaper accounts, TV reports, and works of art (visual, film and video). Much of this information is accessible in the main only to academics and researchers in the field. Most of the public, including school learners and students in health science faculties, have little knowledge of the history of the disease, its geographical spread and its social and economic consequences.

AIM OF THE EXHIBITION

To provide a visually and intellectually stimulating account of the HIV/AIDS epidemic by introducing the disease, listing its clinical stages, looking at the history and spread of the disease and at treatment, including nutritional management and alternative therapies. A panel will be devoted to stigmatisation and the contradictory attitudes associated with HIV, and will document the impact of positive role-models who will include people such as Gugu Dlamini and Justice Edwin Cameron.

A further panel will be devoted to innovative bodies of work being done in South Africa, which relate to research policy/research translation which impacts directly on the health of citizens in this country.

Examples include haemotological research by the Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology on the development of new techniques for measuring CD4 counts which has had an impact beyond South Africa's borders; and the work of James McIntyre and Glenda Gray of the Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU) at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, resulting in the understanding of mother to child transmission and creating strategies of translation into prevention of mother to child transmission. Also in this Unit is a large portfolio of research testing HIV vaccines. Interest in HIV has also stimulated work on the genetics of tuberculosis such as the research being conducted by Valerie Mizrahi, Director of the MRC/NHLS/WITS Molecular Mycobacteriology Research Unit at the National Health Laboratory Service and Research Professor at Wits, which has attracted international attention; the mapping of the distribution of HIV opportunistic infections by members of the National Health Laboratory Services and others.

A panel will be devoted to providing visitors with an opportunity to express their views on HIV/AIDS. This, together with the opportunity for visitors to record their personal histories, will make the exhibition a participative experience. These components may provide material which could guide future educational strategies relating to the epidemic as it will yield insights into what people are thinking and feeling about HIV/AIDS.

OBJECTIVES OF THE EXHIBITION

1. To document HIV/AIDS in an accessible and dynamic manner for the general public, school learners and health science students at university level;

2. To provide an innovative teaching resource for students in the faculties of health sciences and humanities and social sciences as well as school learners;

3. To publicise and present the latest research being conducted in the field in an accessible manner.

4. To gather information from visitors which may become valuable research material.

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