In a well-off suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa, a bride-to-be listens to the radio as she happily dresses for her wedding, until an announcement stops her cold: a popular local DJ—whom she had dated five years earlier—is dying of an AIDS-related illness. Now she must decide whether to tell her groom of her previous relationship or keep her past, and her possible infection, to herself.
This scene opened the new South African television drama Intersexions, a series of 25 vignette-like episodes that tell independent but connected stories of people infected with and affected by HIV. The series offers a window into the characters’ relationships and the circumstances of their infections, following the spread of HIV within a sexual network across age, race, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Each episode sheds more light on the interconnectedness of sexual networks and spurs viewers to reflect on the potential consequences of multiple and concurrent partnerships within their own networks.
Intersexions, sponsored by Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa (JHHESA) has been wildly popular in South Africa. October’s opening episode was watched by more than half of all television viewers in South Africa, and by December, Intersexions had become South Africa’s most watched drama series and the second most watched television show overall on the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). The show’s Web site includes a link to Ask the Dr., a space where anyone can submit a comment or question to Dr. Elna McIntosh, a licensed sexual health care practitioner. The site also contains a Radio Schedule, so audience members can tune into the weekly discussions on various radio stations around South Africa which support Intersexions episodes by focusing on themes raised in that week’s episode.
Have you seen Intersexions? Let us know what you think! Click here to learn about JHHESA’s other radio and television shows on love, sex, and health.