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Sexual Health Awareness Week (SHAW 2009)

The Centre for the History of Medicine at the University of Warwick will be holding the first ever Sexual Health Awareness Week (SHAW 2009) from Monday 23 November to Friday 27 November. This will be the first dedicated week of its kind on a university campus and will take place just before Worlds 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.

SHAW 09 will explore the dynamics and politics surrounding the personal, national and global issues of sexual health, charting how these change over time and analysing how sexual health communication can be improved.

One of the highlights of the week will be a Witness Seminar and Conference on the Politics and Policies of HIV/AIDS: Past and Present. This will bring together those involved in HIV/AIDS on different national and international levels, drawing out their perspectives on how HIV/AIDS shaped and continues to shape individual, institutional, national and international politics and policies. Participants include:

  • Dr Jose Arroyo (Department for Film and Television Studies, Warwick University)
  • Dr Eduard Beck (Senior Technical Officer, UNAIDS Evaluation Department)
  • Jason Crawford (Interdisciplinary Humanities Doctoral Program, Concordia University, Montreal, CA)
  • Prof Lucia F. O'Sullivan (Canada Research Chair in Adolescents' Sexual Health Behaviour, Department of Psychology, University of New Brunswick)
  • Sir Nick Partridge OBE (Chief Executive, Terrence Higgins Trust)
  • Simon Watney (Crusaid)
  • Dr Rupert Whitaker (Chairman, Tuke Institute of Medicine)
  • Tony Whitehead MBE (Terence Higgins Trust's first Chief Executive in 1983)

Research is a key component of the week as it is key to the understanding and development of theoretical and political action on sexual health. There are a range of research projects taking place by both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

One aspect of the week is an exploration and archiving of the experience of students who attended Warwick during the 80s and 90s and witnessed the responses and reactions to the growing AIDS awareness and panic that swept Britain and its institutions. SHAW 09 is currently conducting an anonymous survey of past graduates between 1981 and 1995, in order to look back at this crucial period in sexual health in universities.

In addition to archiving and recording the experience of students from twenty to thirty years ago, SHAW will also collect data on the current students' attitude to and knowledge of sexual health.

SHAW 09 aims to outreach to a number of groups, encouraging the cross-pollination of ideas, research and campaigning. The key areas of SHAW 09 - Arts, Academia and Activism - combine to produce a series of projects that specifically combine these three strands and allow for a refreshing conceptual engagement with sexual health.

SHAW's Outreach Projects include the School's Project. On Wednesday 4th November 2009, Dr Roberta Bivins and SHAW's commissioned local artist, Frieda van de Poll visited the nearby Westwood School to lead a creative workshop on Sexual Health.

Joined by student volunteers and Medical students with an interest in sexual health outreach, the session will invite pupils to create personal responses to the ideas surrounding sexual health, asking the questions they were too scared to ask, and conceptualising their impressions of HIV, AIDS and STDs.

The pupils will make tiny works of art inside individual petri-dishes, which will then be positioned together in a grid for a small installation in Warwick Arts Centre.

Other events during the week include: an evening with Emmy-award winning screenwriter Andrew Davies; a CRUSAID Charity Fun Run; a range of seminars; videocasting and creative writing workshops; film screenings; a musical and many more.