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Sexually transmitted diseases are once again a prominent public health issue in the UK. The numbers of syphilis and gonorrhoea cases, until recently believed to be under control, are on the rise. Chlamydia is spreading among young women under thirty, and one in three HIV/AIDS infections are thought to remain undiagnosed. The Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) states that the number of new HIV/AIDS infections in Coventry has risen dramatically over the past decade. All these conditions are treatable if detected early.

Warwick University’s first Sexual Health Awareness Week will take place just before World Aids Day (1st December). Organised by the Centre for the History of Medicine, in collaboration with the University Health Centre, the Student Union and a range of national and international charities, and disseminated through several departments across the University, it will

  • raise awareness about sexual health and disease, both in the U.K. and globally,
  • provide information about protection, transmission, symptoms, and sources of help
  • raise money for charities, and
  • foster debate on the past and present politics of sexual health, nationally and globally.


The History of STDs and Warwick University

SHAW is also a journey into the history of the University's encounter with STDs. How did Warwick students and teachers experience the outbreak of AIDS in the early 1980s? What measures were taken to inform and protect students? What was discussed in the student press? By inviting past and present health activists and scholars of public health as well as ex-Warwick students and former staff, we will explore how the experience and perception of STDs and the health politics surrounding them have changed over time.

SHAW provides an opportunity to discuss the challenges of sexuality on a complex, multicultural campus; to share differences and sensibilities, and to celebrate student community.

Department events

Many departments and societies will be involved. So far the following are already involved in events:

Medical School:

  • Talks on STDs
  • ‘Seeing Disease’: microscope investigations of the agents of STDs
  • Chlamydia testing
  • ‘Protect Yourself’: medical student ‘Sexpression’ group informs fellow students

NHS Health Centre/Warwick Campus

  • Chlamydia testing; information talks; and distribution of sexual health information packages

Centre of the History of Medicine:

  • International conference on ‘The Politics, Policies and Ethics of HIV/AIDS: Past and Present’
  • Witness seminar with sexual health activists (past and present) followed by student interviews and production of podcasts
  • ‘Sexual Health and Politics’: student podcast competition (in collaboration with the Wellcome Library and the e-learning Centre at Warwick) with a presentation on Aids day (1 December)
  • Student archival work into the history of sexual diseases on Warwick Campus (grant obtained by Warwick University)
  • Lunch-time presentations of historical sexual health education films (from Wellcome library/National Library of Medicine, Bethesda USA)


Film and Televison Studies:

  • Film screening of Derek Jarman's ‘Edward II’, with discussion led by Dr Jose Arroya
  • Presentation of work by American documentary-maker and Aids activist John Greyson, followed by discussion with Greyson; student production of podcasts

Capital Centre:

  • student theatre performances
  • student art productions supervised by artist-in-residence/Arts Centre on STDs (presentation on Aids Day 1 December)

Centre for Creative Writing/Department of English:

  • Poetry and literature readings on the topic of AIDS and other STDs in the past and present

Department of Politics:

  • Public student debate on ‘Sexually Transmitted Disease and Politics’ organised by Politics Society

Warwick Music Centre:

  • Gala concert with all of Warwick’s music groups; individual concerts over the week

Warwick Radio:

  • A series on STDs and their history to be aired from beginning of by October to ‘announce’ SHAW; inquiries for national radio stations is under way.

All organisational responsibility lies with the Centre for the History of Medicine.