The Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute
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The Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute is one of the largest research Institutes of the University of the Witwatersrand and part of the Faculty of Health Sciences.
Established in 1994 as the Reproductive Health Research Unit (RHRU) under the leadership of Professor Helen Rees, OBE, the Institute was formed on 1 October 2010 through a merger with Enhancing Children’s HIV Outcomes (ECHO) and has evolved into one of the largest programme implementation, research and training units of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa. The Institute works with Government at a national and provincial level and has offices in Johannesburg, Klerksdorp, Vryburg, Mafikeng and Emgwenya (formerly Waterval Boven, Mpumalanga). Key research sites include Yeoville, Hillbrow and Emgwenya.
As an internationally renowned African academic Institute and an agent of social change, its mission is to lead the way in the field of HIV, sexual & reproductive health and related conditions, and to be recognised for:
• Outstanding pioneering research
• Responsive technical support and quality innovative services
• Evidence-based policy development and advocacy
• Teaching and capacity-building
• Partnership with communities and stakeholders
Wits RHI has a broad research programme which focuses on HIV and related diseases, sexual and reproductive health, or the intersection between the two, in various population groups. It has a long history of exploring the interactions between HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
One such research study that focuses on empowering women is ASPIRE – A Study to Prevent Infection with a Ring for Extended Use. ASPIRE seeks to determine whether a woman’s use of a vaginal ring containing the antiretroviral (ARV) drug dapivirine is a safe and effective method for protecting against HIV infection. The study, which began mid-2012, has enrolled approximately 3,476 women at several sites in Africa and aims to take approximately two years to conduct, with results anticipated late 2014 or early 2015.
Although commercial availability of such a ring is a long way away, studies like ASPIRE are very important in the development of woman-centred tools for preventing HIV, as many women in sub-Saharan Africa are not able to negotiate condom use and need prevention technologies that they can control.
For more information about Wits RHI or ASPIRE, please contact Wits RHI Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org
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