The HIV/AIDS Prevention Group Bela Bela has been part of many collaborations with various researchers and universities, both locally and internationally, focused on sharing their knowledge. Thorough record keeping and research  has been central to HAPG in picking up emerging issues and trends with HIV and TB patients from their community, and being able to respond appropriately by providing an effective health system. By sharing its statistics, experiences and outcomes, HAPG has had some influence on policy and shared learning. These collaborations have resulted in various scientific papers being published and HAPG jointly presenting papers at the AIDS 2010AIDS 2010  in Vienna (Abstract Number CDC0502)and the 3rd SA TB ConferenceSA TB Conference in Durban in 2012.

You can download many of the research outputs on the Downloads page.

The following are examples of our research collaboration.

HAPG and the University of Venda, Limpopo

Professor Pascal Bessonq of the Virology Department at the University of Venda provides another important perspective on the impact of careful data collection and analysis that HAPG has provided. In 2001, whilst pursuing his doctoral studies, Pascal came across the work of Cecile on a trip to Bela Bela.  At the time, he was undertaking research on HIV and genetics to identfy what was happening to the HI-virus over time, and whether new mutations were developing in parts of South Africa. He recognised the important role that HAPG had played in being the first to provide people with access to drugs, long before policy frameworks had been developed by the state. As HAPG has provided treatment five years before government and has consistently collected data around the treatment and its effects on patients, including bloods tests, it provided a rich opportunity to undertake detailed research at whether resistance was being developed by the virus. Two papers have been published from this study, both of which have had important implications for understanding the genetic impact of the treatment on the virus structure. This reflected an important contribution of HAPG to scientific enquiry.

HAPG and the Department of Health

In 2005, Cecile and Dr Ndjeka had an opportunity to consolidate their work through a research paper that was presented at the International AIDS Conference held in Durban. Here, Dr Ndjeka presented an impact assessment of antiretroviral therapy on patients treated under HAPG. In many ways, this was an astonishing paper. Using data collected through the systematic service provided to HAPG patients, indisputable evidence was presented that showed that ART had a positive impact on those enrolled for treatment. The fact that treatment helped patients keep their jobs, reduced healthcare-seeking behaviour and improved their image in their family were powerful reasons for supporting the continued rollout of ART, which had started in 2004 in the public health sector.. The message from HAPG was that, with the immense burden of HIV, treatment needed to be integrated into primary healthcare. Their experience was that this was the most effective ways of integrating treatment into a comprehensive approach that could effectively deal with the epidemic. The focus on primary healthcare began successfully in Limpopo in 2009 under the leadership of Aaron Motsoaledi, the incoming Minister of Health.

HAPG Bela-bela Collaboration with the University of Virginia

As an expansion of our earlier and ongoing studies on drug resistance among HIV naïve subjects, started with Prof. Pascal Bessong of the University of Venda, Limpopo Province, the HAPG recently welcomed its new collaborator, The Myles Thaler Center, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology at the University of Virginia (UVA) in the United States.