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30 January 2013

HSRC is UNAIDS Collaborating Centre on HIV

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
Press Release

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the HSRC to become a UNAIDS Collaborating Centre on HIV Prevention Research and Policy. According to the MOU, the Centre will conduct research, training and policy development in the area of HIV prevention and policy.

“We are pleased that the HSRC’s credibility in HIV research is recognised in this manner and that we are able to make a contribution to this global effort. This is indeed a great honour and opportunity for the HSRC and we look forward to this collaboration,” said HSRC CEO, Dr Olive Shisana.

The proposed area of global collaboration with the UNAIDS is around strategic information, especially HSRC’s flagship population survey with the possibility of building in some ‘Know Your Epidemic, Know Your Response’ questions into the survey. UNAIDS has begun monitoring incidence and behavioural risk and is interested in developing and strengthening this capacity within countries. The use of strategic information in developing regional policies as well as training in writing of policy briefs, and joint convening or co-sponsoring of a regional conference will also form part of the collaboration. At country level, HSRC will work with the UNAIDS Country Office in South Africa to improve monitoring, evaluation and reporting of the epidemic particularly at provincial level.

Signing the MOU, Prof. Sheila Tlou, Director of the Regional Support Team (RST) for Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) said “This partnership is a unique opportunity for UNAIDS to strengthen strategic information on the epidemic so that we are able to realise our common vision of zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related death and zero discrimination.”

Prof. Leickness Simbayi, the Executive Director of the HSRC’s HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB (HAST) Research Programme added, “We have met all the criteria to become a UNAIDS collaboration centre at a global level, where some flagship HSRC products may be leveraged for the whole organisation. Secondly, we have met the criteria at a regional level, since this relationship is to be managed by the Regional Support Team (RST) for Eastern and Southern Africa. Finally, we will have impact at a country level in terms of the relationship managed by the UNAIDS Country Office (UCO) that focuses primarily on South Africa.”

Dr Shisana said that little was known about the social epidemiology of HIV/AIDS. Today, the HSRC has developed a strong programme that addresses social aspects of HIV and AIDS and produces a population-based report on the state of the South African HIV epidemic, which is read in 192 countries.

The programme has undertaken research that includes HIV prevalence, HIV  incidence, use of antiretroviral drugs, sexual behaviour, perception of risk, stigma, family planning, impact of HIV/AIDS on health, education and economy.

Issued by:  HSRC’s Communication & Stakeholder Relations Office

For more information contact:  Julian A Jacobs on 083 326 6821.

Additional Information:

The HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB (HAST) research programme of HSRC specialises in evidence-based research on socio-epidemiological determinants of HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB. HAST and aspires to be an international, regional and national resource for evidence-based research to prevent new infections and mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB.  HAST has a unique strength in strategic information, and its flagship study is the National HIV Prevalence and Behavioural Risks Household Survey, which it is preparing to launch for the fourth time in SA. This survey has contributed both directly and indirectly, to the development and implementation of the HIV & AIDS and STI Strategic Plan for South Africa 2007-2011. HAST has also provided technical assistance to a number of SADC countries in the past to undertake similar surveys. In addition, HAST has a network of partners in other African countries – the Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS Research Alliance or SAHARA – which can be leveraged for multi-country studies or work.

Positioning statements:

UNAIDS is a unique United Nations partnership dedicated to empowering the world to build strong and sustainable responses to HIV/AIDS. UNAIDS fulfills its mission by convening diverse stakeholders affected by HIV and involved in the response; mobilising political, technical and financial resources and ensuring that they are targeted to where they can make the most impact; supporting country leadership for comprehensive responses that are part of national development agendas; advocating for the primacy of human rights — particularly those of key affected populations — in ending the epidemic; facilitating the meaningful involvement of civil society and people living with HIV; committing to constantly improve the way it does business and holding itself and its partners to account to deliver meaningful results; leading the global movement to achieve global commitments to people living with, affected by and at risk of HIV including Universal Access to HIV Prevention, Treatment, Care and Support and attaining the Millennium Development Goals.

The HSRC is South Africa’s statutory research agency that conducts large-scale, policy-relevant, social-scientific research projects for public-sector users, non-governmental organisations and international development agencies. HSRC has a commitment to cutting-edge research which supports development nationally, in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and in Africa, but it is the commitment to the dissemination of that research that demonstrates measurable impact of the work. HSRC seeks to serve as a knowledge hub that bridges the gap between research, policy and action through collaboration with key constituencies including government, other research organisations, multinational agencies, universities, non-governmental organisations, and donor and development organisations. The HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB (HAST) research programme of HSRC specialises in evidence-based research on socio-epidemiological determinants and implications of HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB. HAST aspires to be an international, regional and national resource for evidence-based research to prevent new infections and mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB.