Working to Advance
Health Equity in Africa

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Sexual & reproductive health & rights – our approach

In the era of Sustainable Development Goals, the importance of linking sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) with HIV is rightly recognised. In Africa, most HIV infections are sexually transmitted or are associated with pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding; moreover, sexual and reproductive ill-health and HIV also share root causes, including poverty, gender inequality, and social marginalisation of vulnerable groups. Success in reversing these trends will require a far stronger focus in national level research on underlying drivers of discriminat...

Why do HIV prevention programmes fail to reach at risk men?

The case of voluntary male medical circumcision roll out in South Africa A promising HIV prevention strategy aimed specifically at young men is voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC), as men who have been medically circumcised are 60% less likely to contract HIV through male to female vaginal sex. The World Health Organization and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS have recommended that 80% of men, aged 15 to 49 years old undergo circumcision by the end of 2016. Should these targets be met, the VMMC intervention should avert more than 1 million new...

HEARD hosts high level discussion on ‘The future of AIDS financing in Africa.’

HEARD recently hosted a unique meeting of African ministers of Health at the Ditchley Foundation, Oxford, in the UK. Also in attendance were selected Directors of National AIDS Commissions, UNAIDS officials, the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme, Swedish International Development Cooperation and other concerned organisations to consider the future of AIDS financing.  The meeting was organised by Professor Nana K. Poku, Health Economics Research Chair at the UKZN. The discussions turned on the call by UNAIDS for greatly increased funding in order t...

The power of friendship and conversation for preventing violence against women and girls

HEARD's gender equality and health expert Andrew Gibbs and Nwabisa Jama Shai from the gender and health unit of the South African Medical Research Council on strengthening government, civil society and academic relationships for evidenced-based policy and programming to prevent VAWG. Evidence-based interventions to prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG) cannot shape government or civil society policy and programming unless academics engage both sectors and are receptive to understanding the challenges they face. Such engagements need to be on-going and...

Public lecture: Women’s agency, social change & human rights – lessons from HIV/AIDS

The history of the response to HIV and AIDS in South Africa has seen a complex mix of overlapping psychological, social and biomedical responses over time, as it has progressed from being regarded as an incurable and terrifying infectious disease to a more  normalised and treatable chronic illness. This talk seeks to identify and problematise some of the unstated and less helpful conceptualisations underpinning many interventions seeking to promote sexual behaviour change, service access and treatment adherence through psycho-social and community level strategies...

13 ART adherence challenges faced by MSM & LGBTI living with HIV in Kampala, Uganda

It is now possible for antiretroviral therapy (ART) to reduce viral load of HIV to the point where an infected person is no longer, or much less, infectious to others. As a result, ‘treatment as prevention’ has become the cornerstone of UNAIDS’s post-2015 global strategy to end AIDS by 2030. As the expansion of treatment provision continues, and access improves, adherence becomes a determining factor in the impact of ART for both treatment and prevention. We’re conducting a number of small scoping studies on challenges to ART adherence in men who have sex ...

New research: Health systems and HIV in Eastern and Southern Africa

HEARD's research director Dr Govender was recently awarded a National Research Foundation and Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education research capacity building grant to forge systematic research on health systems and HIV in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA). The principle objective of the three year grant is to foster scientific and technological cooperation between the two countries, South Africa and Sweden. The cooperation between HEARD, UKZN and its research partners at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden will focus o...

Data collection for Stepping Stones and Creating Futures trial begins

Baseline data collection has begun for cluster randomised control trial to assess whether the Stepping Stones and Creating Futures intervention can reduce men’s perpetration and women’s experience of intimate partner violence (IPV) in urban informal settlements in Durban. Baseline data collection will stretch into 2016 in 32 informal settlements, with a total of 1280 young people recruited into the study. HEARD researcher and the principal investigator on the project Dr Andrew Gibbs said “There’s growing evidence that strengthening women’s economic auton...

Beyond working with men and boys

We need to work with men and boys as become a key mantra of health programmes globally, particularly those concerned with HIV, violence and more recently sexual and reproductive health and rights, and yet there is very little known about how effective these programmes are, nor of the challenges, opportunities and politics of this work. HEARD researcher Dr Andrew Gibbs is the lead editor, alongside Dr Cathy Vaughan (Melbourne University) and Prof Peter Aggleton (Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW Australia) of a special issue of Culture, Health and Sexualit...

The challenges to antiretroviral adherence among MSM and LGBTI living with HIV in east and southern Africa

“What are the challenges to antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence among Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, and Intersex (LGBTI) living with HIV in east and southern Africa?” This embodies the question formed by MSM and LGBTI community activists who attended an amfAR-organised one and a half day meeting to develop an LGBTI research agenda in 2014. This question, asked by the communities it concerns, is particularly topical given that ‘treatment as prevention’ has become the cornerstone of UNAIDS’s post-2015 global st...