‘Hold on’ (Bambelela)! Lyrical interpretations of participation in an HIV prevention clinical trial

Jonathan Stadler, Hayley MacGregor, Eirik Saethre, Sinead Delany-Moretlwe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


During a five-day workshop, former clinical trial participants and local musicians wrote the lyrics and recorded a song about an HIV prevention trial. Born of concerns about misconceptions regarding experimental drug trials, the aim was to engender engagement with medical researchers and open dialogue about the risks and benefits of trial participation. Composing lyrics that highlighted their credibility as communicators of medical scientific knowledge and their selfless sacrifice to stem the transmission of HIV, women performed their social positioning and cultural authority in contrast to men as well as other women not part of the trial. While involvement in HIV prevention initiatives often attracts stigma, scorn and criticism, the song’s lyrics highlighted women’s new-found identities as heroines searching for a solution to the spread of HIV, challenging these stereotypes. Methodologically, the paper describes a novel approach that uses artistic expression for public engagement with biomedical research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1199-1213
Number of pages15
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2018


  • HIV prevention
  • Lyrics
  • South Africa
  • clinical trials
  • public engagement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health (social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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