Sexually transmitted infections such as HIV are illnesses that affect both a person's physical health as well as their mental and social wellbeing. Yet, the global development of public health responses have, for the most part, remained focused on the physical wellbeing of people with little attention paid to the individual’s emotional wellbeing. With the highest number of HIV positive people worldwide, South Africa requires ‘a new and positive approach to the pandemic’. This article aims to bring attention to practice, in this instance, theatre and performance-based work, which considers the people and communities affected and afflicted by HIV, and other sexual health concerns, as individuals with individual thoughts and emotions, for greater inclusion in a more positive approach to tackling AIDS. This article will consider three examples of such practice, namely the Themba HIV/AIDS Organisation, the Etafeni Centre and ‘our place, our stage’ (OPOS) project.