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10 June 2010

Research agreement between HSRC and NMMU on HIV/AIDS

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
Press Release

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) related to research on the social aspects of HIV/AIDS ON 10 June.

The agreement entails co-publishing the quarterly Journal of the Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS (SAHARA J) and co-hosting the biennial Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS Research Alliance (SAHARA) conference for the next five years. SAHARA is a network of African researchers on the social and behavioural aspects of HIV/AIDS. The secretariat of SAHARA is hosted by the HSRC.

Professor Leickness Simbayi, executive director of the Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS and Health (SAHA) research programme, welcomed this as ‘an excellent example of local cooperation which is a win-win situation for both institutions involved. We are looking forward to an exciting 5-year period of exceptional growth to the SAHARA brand as a result of this agreement.’

Vice chancellor of NMMU, Professor Derrick Swartz, hailed this landmark agreement as providing a platform for the two institutions ‘to pursue rigorous scholarship into the social dynamics of HIV/AIDS that should provide an important empirical basis for our thinking around national policy and strategy in combating the pandemic’.

Deputy vice chancellor Prof Thoko Mayekiso added that the partnership offers a unique opportunity to develop and nurture research expertise in the social aspects of HIV/AIDS.
SAHARA J was established in 2004 to provide an outlet for the publication of research articles in French and English on all social aspects of HIV/AIDS, including care, support, prevention, treatment, behavioural surveillance, evidence-based intervention and stigma amongst others. SAHARA J is indexed in the International Bibliography for Social Sciences (IBSS), Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) and abstracted in Sociological Abstracts, African Journals Online and the PubMed bibliographic databases EMBASE, EM Nursing, Compendex, GEOBASE, Mosby Yearbooks and Scopus.

The MoU will see the HSRC and NMMU researchers in this field collaborate on the editorial board, with Prof. Nancy Phaswana-Mafuya, the director of SAHARA, serving as executive editor of the SAHARA J. Prof. Karl Peltzer, a research director at the HSRC, is the chief advisor, and Ms. Mercy Banyini the m anaging editor. Prof. Thoko Mayekiso, NMMU deputy vice-chancellor: Research and Engagement, will serve as the editor-in-chief and Prof Velile Notshulwana, executive dean of the Faculty of Arts at the NMMU, will serve as the co-executive editor.  The two institutions will equally share the annual costs of the publishing, printing, editing, translation and distribution of the journal.

The sixth SAHARA Conference will be co-hosted by the HSRC and NMMU in Port Elizabeth from 29 November – 2 December 2011 and will coincide with World AIDS Day on 1 December 2011. This will be the first ever HIV/AIDS Conference of this magnitude in the Eastern Cape and in Port Elizabeth in particular.

The theme for SAHARA 2011 will be ‘Human Rights and HIV/AIDS in Africa’ as many challenges still exist with respect to the protection of human rights of people living with HIV and AIDS despite the availability of comprehensive legal and human rights frameworks in Africa states.

The inaugural SAHARA conference was held in Pretoria in 2002, with subsequent editions in Cape Town (2004), Dakar, Senegal (2005), Kisumu, Kenya (2007) and Midrand (2009). The conference usually attracts up to 600 delegates from Sub-Saharan Africa, researchers in Diaspora, as well as other international delegates.

The SAHARA conference aims at creating an inter-disciplinary space for dialogues between researchers, policy makers, civil society, people living with HIV/AIDS, donors and international organisations for the exchange of ideas and new knowledge on the social aspects of HIV/AIDS.

Through the MoU, the HSRC and NMMU will develop a conference governance strategy for organising the event.

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For interviews or further information:

Prof. Nancy Phaswana-Mafuya, the director of SAHARA, on +27 (0) 79 496 2954, or +27 (0) 421399 8704
Vice Chancellor of NMMU, Professor Derrick Swartz, on +27 (0) 41 5043320