“I FIND that you put the word sex in the title of a lecture and it fills the auditorium,” said Porofessor Francois Venter, generating laughter from the predominantly adult audience present in the medical school auditorium.

Sex, drugs and complex relationships are some of the themes that dominated this year`s A.J Orenstein Memorial Lecture, held at the Wits Medical School on Tuesday night.

Venter, a Wits medical school graduate and a specialist in infectious diseases presented the lecture under the topic “HIV prevention and sex in southern Africa: Why can’t we get it right?”

His lecture was no laughing matter though. The underlying theme of his lecture was that prevention efforts regarding HIV have been disappointing and that despite a lot of money spent on public sex education, there seems to be a disconnection between knowledge and behaviour.

 The experienced doctor, who has been treating HIV/Aids patients since the early 1990s says although there have been numerous education campaigns on HIV, “the clinics just never get emptier”.

Half of South Africans will contract HIV because of the failure of prevention programmes and millions of rands have been spent telling people how they can contract HIV, according to Venter.

He advocates that the discord between knowledge and behaviour is critical and it needs to be addressed.

Although his bottom line was that people must stop “screwing around”, the professor said studies show that cheating is on the rise worldwide saying, “there are complex sexual networks in our society”.

The professor also said sexual patterns and preferences constantly evolve in society and these changes need to be accommodated and understood.

A surprising statement by Venter was that research is currently being conducted to confirm whether hormonal contraceptives could possibly spread the HI virus.

He also tackled marriage, saying the idea of monogamous couples is a “misconception” and that the reality is if one is likely to cheat then one is likely to bring the virus home.