Avri Spilka
Hosted by the Southern African Sexual Health Association (SASHA)

It’s with great excitement that I invite you to the first ever SASHA (Southern African Sexual Health Association) conference which will be hosted in the scenic city of Cape Town in October this year. Our theme is ‘Merging the Mosaic: Advancing Sexual Health in Southern Africa’. It is an honour to bring together this kaleidoscope of voices, priorities and perspectives in Sexology. We have an ambitious vision for this conference, to integrate biopsychosocial as well as sexual justice perspectives into the programme. 

You will find the latest Sexological research, best practice, pharmacology, and technology that speaks to your work directly AND you’ll learn about things that you may not come across in your every-day work but will undoubtedly open you up to new ways of thinking about human sexuality. The programme features a stimulating array of topics: Onco-sexology, consensual non-monogamies, endocrinology, eroticism, sexual pleasure and disability, sex and ageing, comprehensive sexual health education for adolescents and medical students, space travel (Astro sexology), treatments for sexual pain, robotics and intimacy, gender diversity and diversity of sexual identity, use of mindfulness and sensate focus in sexual wellbeing, sexual justice, sex work, BDSM and so much more. Our speakers represent a wide variety of expertise and communities. 

The conference is a largely face to face event over three days made up of workshops, symposia, oral and poster presentations, networking opportunities and socialising! I encourage you to check out the programme which details the workshops and symposia that will be on offer and to submit your abstract so we can showcase the important work you are doing.    

Since the early 90’s SASHA as an organisation has been committed to making evidence based sexual health research and best practice available to health care professionals in Southern Africa. Thirty years ago, learning about sexual health was very difficult, and most people who could afford to do so would go overseas to get the Sexological information they needed to practice. Thankfully they also came back here to convince pharmaceutical companies to sponsor events where we could gather to get educated about treating sexual pain, desire discrepancies, delayed ejaculation, or arousal and orgasm difficulties. These early pioneers also met at strip clubs to learn about more politically charged issues like the woman’s and gay rights movements, religion, and abortion in discussion with sex workers, activists, and educators. 

From swish conference centres to dimly lit strip clubs you can see there are very different perspectives, priorities, and people that we have learnt from over the years, often in isolation from each other. Increasingly over the past few years (accelerated by a pandemic motivated move to online eventing), we have seen the benefits of putting together educational events that merge different perspectives around a particular topic who live and work in different places; with speakers who represent both those who provide and receive sexual health care, and the allies that support them. Rather than hearing from one kind of expert we invite speakers that represent the many ways we can approach a particular facet of human sexuality. This is multi-disciplinary and intersectional sexual health in practice, and it deepens our capacity to provide relevant and appropriate care to the communities we serve. 

This is the key to centering the humanity of the people, professionals and communities we work with, in and alongside.   

We look forward to welcoming you to the ‘Merging the Mosaic’ conference!

Yours Faithfully, 

Avri Spilka
President of the Southern African Sexual Health Association (SASHA)