Research Highlights & News

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Staff News

  • HIDRU CLO, Mduduzi Ngubane with over ten years community engagement experience features in the HPTN newsletter. The enthusiasm of the community members and his colleagues keeps Mdu inspired and driven.
  • This International Mandela Day 2022, SAMRC HIDRU Clinical Research Site teams were out and about visiting schools and a Centre caring for orphaned children spending quality time with learners and planted trees symbolizing growth and contributing to the earth.
  • The gentlemen surprised the women at the HIDRU Isipingo Clinical Research Site to a treat, celebrating their team work, support and recognizing the multiple roles women play in society and at their site. We applaud the men for their support.
  • Dr Dishiki and colleagues celebrated women’s day at Ridge Road and the words below captures the event. “No one will dictate who I can be and if I must, re-invent the world is what I will do. I will be authentically me, myself and I. So who am I? I am all woman and proud. Thank you. God bless you. Happy Women’s Day”


CER co-chair election results - Congratulations to our own Mduduzi Ngubane, Isipingo CRS, Durban, RSA

It is our pleasure to announce the results of our recent elections. Our new leaders of the Global CERs are:

  • Latin America: Francisco Tenorio, Mexico City CRS, Mexico
  • Sub-Saharan Africa: Mduduzi Ngubane, Isipingo CRS, Durban
  • United States: Rafael Gonzalez, Bridge HIV CRS, San Francisco

Below are their nomination statements. We are so grateful to all of the candidates from all regions who stepped forward for consideration!! It is truly a privilege to work with such talented individuals.

  • Francisco Tenorio, Mexico City CRS, Mexico City, Mexico:
    I am a Human Rights advocate with experience in education, sexual rights and youth engagement. I have collaborated with different organizations, universities and government institutions in education and research processes. I participated in the Ship for World Youth Program of the Cabinet Office of the Government of Japan and in the Contrapunctus Study Program of the Council of Europe. Since 2016, I have collaborated with the University of Washington as coordinator in Mexico of the study abroad program LGBTQ + Communities, Public Health, and Migration in Mexico and in other University of Washington projects. I have served as member of the Youth Advisory Group of the United Nations Fund of Population Office in Mexico - UNFPA Mexico during the period 2019-2020.  Since 2019, I have been working on research studies at Clínica Especializada Condesa as Community Educator. My professional and personal experiences in the last years have taught me how important it is to work together and to share spaces with different regions across the world. In them we can learn a lot, share experiences, good practices, and reflections. It will be an honor for me to be able to represent my country, Mexico, and the Latin America region in general, as well to contribute so that the research site in which I collaborate can enhance the activities of Community Education and Engagement. 
  • Mduduzi Ngubane, Isipingo CRS, Durban, RSA:
    My name is Mduduzi Ngubane, a Community Liaison Officer for the SAMRC Isipingo Clinical Research site. I have worked in clinical research for almost 15 years where I worked  as Recruiter, Community Educator and a Liaison Officer.  I have experience working in Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 2B, Phase 3, and Open Label Extension trials. I have written up abstracts for conferences, been part of stakeholder consultations prior to initiation of new protocols, and trained and supported  the Community Working Group/ CAB/ CAG. I feel being nominated for this role could assist me to raise issues to assist and support the engagement programme. I recently completed an AVAC course on strengthening stakeholder engagement. I hope this narrative will help you in considering me for this role.
  • Rafael Gonzalez, San Francisco, CA:
    I am excited to express my strong interest in the U.S. CER Co-Chair position for the HVTN! I have worked with the HVTN for 7 years. In this time, I have grown from intern to Community Programs Manager. In between these two positions, I have worked as a clinical studies recruiter/community educator and as a research associate.  In my current position, I oversee clinical study recruitment, enrollment, and community engagement. In addition, I have sat on protocol teams (HVTN 706/HPX3002, HVTN123/HPTN088 and HVTN 405) and am a member of the CoVPN Community Working Group. Having this breadth of experience gives me a unique point of a view and understanding of the lifecycle of conducting a successful clinical trial at an individual site. This understanding allows me to represent Bridge HIV, as well as the HVTN, when collaborating with community as well as other external stakeholders such as local jurisdictions, health departments, and community-based organizations – with soul and science.
HPRU symposium: HIV, TB and COVID-19, 15 February 2021

HPRU, SAMRC, in collaboration with scientists from CAPRISA, UCT, and Wits University, held a symposium on HIV, TB and COVID-19 vaccines. The four scientists highlighted lessons learned, strategies and next steps in vaccine development, current research results, and their views on what the future holds for these vaccines in public health and disease management.

You can access the symposium recording (video) and presentations below:

HPRU symposium: Ethically acceptable consent approaches to adolescent research in South Africa, 21 June 2021

HPRU, SAMRC, in collaboration with researchers from Wits University, University of KwaZulu Natal, Desmond Tutu HIV Centre - UCT, UNISA, and the University of Pretoria held a symposium on Ethically acceptable consent approaches to adolescent research in South Africa. The presentations included reviewing international trends regarding ethical consent for adolescents, reflecting on the ethical-legal concerns in advancing child health, and looking at current consent approaches in SA. The symposium concluded with several suggestions to address the challenges to obtaining consent for adolescent research in SA. You can access the symposium video and presentations below:

HIDRU symposium: COVID-19, HIV and TB - viral evolution, disease progression and health services, 14 March 2022

HIDRU, SAMRC, in collaboration with scientists from CAPRISA, SAPRIN, and UKZN, hosted a symposium on the interactions between COVID-19, HIV and TB, and its effects on viral evolution, disease progression and health service delivery. The three guest speakers shared the latest research regarding the burden of this tri-infection, its clinical manifestations, vaccine effectiveness, and long term strategies in managing these diseases.




Research Conducted

Antibody Mediated Prevention (AMP) trials data published by the New England Journal of Medicine - March 17, 2021

Most advanced clinical trials testing broadly neutralizing antibody against HIV demonstrate efficacy against sensitive strains

SEATTLE – MARCH 17, 2021 – The proof-of-concept AMP studies demonstrated that a broadly neutralizing antibody (bnAb) called VRC01 was effective at preventing the acquisition of HIV strains to the 30% of strains that were sensitive to the bnAb. This finding was seen both in Sub-Saharan Africa and the U.S. and South America.  VRCO1 did not prevent the acquisition of HIV to strains that were resistant to the bNAb. As the resistant strains constituted nearly 70% of the circulating strains in these regions, there was no difference noted between the VRC01 arms and placebo arm in terms of overall prevention of HIV acquisition. The sensitivity to bNAbs was assessed by a laboratory test that measures a virus’ susceptibility to neutralization by an antibody.

Read more.

Articles available on the New England Journal of Medicine

AMP Study Results - Access to material

AMP Trial - Protocol-specific Bulletin #158

  • The first set of results of the AMP study was a success and researchers were able to show that the type of antibody (called VRC01) that was used in the AMP studies can prevent acquisition of some types of HIV.
  • The overall reduction in HIV infections, compared to placebo, was 19%, and this reduction was some way off statistical significance, so scientifically speaking did not count as a reduction at all.
  • The antibody worked if it could neutralize or block the strain of HIV that one was exposed to.
  • Investigators found that only 30% of the HIV strains circulating in the regions where the trials were conducted were sensitive to VRC01.
  • The results suggest that it will likely take two or three antibodies to prevent acquisition of the many different global strains of HIV.
  • But, for the first time, scientists have a very precise threshold for its efficacy and know that it will contribute to prevention regimens using combinations of bNAbs – combinations that are currently undergoing trials.
  • This is like what we see with the medicines approved to treat people living with HIV (the medicines called antiretroviral therapy or ART) where we use combinations of multiple drugs. The good news is that researchers are already doing studies testing other antibodies that may be able to be combined with antibodies like VRC011,2,3

HPRU contributed 195 participants from the Bothas Hill (n=72) and Chatsworth (n=123) sites led by Dr Mammekwa Mokgoro and Dr Logashvari Naidoo (Principal Investigator) together with the site CRSLs and SCs. 

HPTN - Network Performance Awards Winners Announced

Estimated Retention – Winner 2020

Botha’s Hill CRS, Durban, South Africa
For the highest visit completion rate of 98.9% for HVTN 703/HPTN 081 (AMP)

HPTN 084 Site Awards for MRC sites - 2021

Botha's Hill CRS, Durban - Isipingo CRS & Verulam CRS


HPRU participated in one of the first women-initiated methods for HIV prevention.

The MTN-020/ASPIRE study evaluated the safety and efficacy of the dapivirine vaginal ring (VR) (25 mg) for the prevention of HIV-1 infection in healthy, sexually active, HIV-negative women. MTN 020/ASPIRE demonstrated that the monthly dapivirine vaginal ring is safe for long term use and can reduce the risk of HIV-1 infection in women when used. Protection was greater in subgroups with evidence of better adherence to ring use. In MTN 020/ASPIRE, the dapivirine ring reduced the risk of HIV infection by 27% overall, and showed a greater level of protection for women over 21 (56%).  IPM 027/The Ring Study showed similar results.

This led to the product to be tested in an “open label” trial (MTN 025), which will assess its use by previous participants in more “real life” situations. We hope that the additional data obtained by the open label HOPE study will lead to licensure of the first women- initiated HIV prevention technology. We anticipate the results in the latter part of 2018. Should we be successful, the study will have implications on policy as well as public health

J.M. Baeten et al. Use of a Vaginal Ring Containing Dapivirine for HIV-1 Prevention in Women. NEJM DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1506110


HPRU is contributing to the HVTN’s (HIV Vaccine Trials Network) mission “to fully characterize the safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy of HIV vaccine candidates with the goal of developing a safe, effective vaccine as rapidly as possible for prevention of HIV infections globally”; as well as HPTN’s (HIV Prevention Trials Network) mission “dedicated to the discovery and development of new and innovative research strategies to reduce the acquisition and transmission of HIV”. In this regard, the following studies have been undertaken: HVTN 100; HVTN 111; HVTN 702; HVTN 703/HPTN 081; HVTN 705.


A Phase 3 Double Blind Safety and Efficacy Study of Long-Acting Injectable Cabotegravir Compared to Daily Oral TDF/FTC for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis in HIV-Uninfected Women


Translating PrEP uptake by adolescents. Developing a Gender-Enhanced PrEP Information-Motivation Workshop for Young South African Women


Innovative trial with combined prevention interventions. To start 2019.

African scientists should lead in developing an Aids jab for Africa, 29 November 2021

Observational data suggested that hormonal contraception and in particular Depo-Provera increases the risk of HIV acquisition. We investigated the association between hormonal contraception and risk of HIV seroconversion and prevalence of other STIs. Data from 2236 participants recruited from microbicide trials were analysed to assess the association between HC and HIV. We show that in our setting HC was the most common contraception (46.47%). Use of HC was significantly associated with increased risk for HIV acquisition (HR 1.72: 95% CI 1.19-2.49, P<0.005). HC was also significantly associated with a higher prevalence of C. trachomatis (adjusted OR 2.46, 95%CI 1.52-3.97, P<0.001). HC are highly effective and well tolerated family planning methods. However, evidence suggests it may increase risk of HIV acquisition and it is recommended that women are counselled on importance of dual protection such as with male condoms in high HIV prevalence settings. This study was used as evidence for the WHO guiding document on HC and HIV prevention. Women should be encouraged to use other long acting contraception such as IUCD and contraceptive transdermal patches (such as Evra®). The NDOH has embarked on a drive to introduce these in Family Planning Clinics in South Africa. I developed the concept and co-wrote the manuscript.

Handan Wand and Gita Ramjee. The effects of injectable hormonal contraceptives on HIV seroconversion and on sexually transmitted infections. AIDS 2012. 26:375-380