UKZN Researchers Serve on 9th SA AIDS Conference Organising Committee
Two prominent researchers at UKZN, Dr Kaymarlin Govender of HEARD and Professor Ayesha Kharsany of CAPRISA, have been selected as members of the organising committee for the upcoming South African AIDS Conference in Durban.
Govender is the Research Director at HEARD (Health Economics and HIV and AIDS Research Division) and Kharsany is a Senior Scientist at CAPRISA (Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa).
Their selection stems partly from UKZN being at the forefront of technologies and innovations in HIV and AIDS, most notably through the work of its internationally recognised researchers and research centres.
The 9th edition of the biennial conference will be held at the International Convention Centre in Durban from 11-14 June under the theme: Unprecedented Innovations and Technologies: HIV and Change, and will highlight scientific, social and digital innovations and technologies aimed at controlling the HIV and AIDS epidemic.
Govender, a behavioural scientist specialising in research on HIV/AIDS in young and vulnerable populations in the eastern and southern African regions, will co-chair Track 4 of the conference titled: Social Drivers of the Epidemic; Society, Race, Class, Culture, Stigma, Violence, Diversity and Challenges.
‘The biomedical response has been at the forefront of the AIDS response,’ said Govender. ‘However, there are persistent social, structural and economic factors involved in HIV and AIDS barriers preventing national and global targets being attained. Track 4 offers a critical lens to the epidemic and the societies and communities in which it is lodged. The track will seek to inject new insights into how social aspects of HIV and AIDS may be more critically and effectively understood and strategies implemented.’
Kharsany’s research focus is on understanding the evolving HIV epidemic in South Africa and factors influencing HIV acquisition, especially among young women.
She will co-chair Track 1 of the conference titled: Clinical Science and Bio-medical Innovations, Technologies and Responses.
‘We now have innovative biomedical tools and technologies to respond effectively to diagnose, treat and prevent HIV,’ said Kharsany. ‘Nevertheless, we still face many challenges as the new HIV infections continue. The track offers the newer finding on understanding HIV transmission, models of HIV care and the developmental pathway of HIV vaccines, broadly neutralising antibodies, pre-exposure prophylaxis and cure strategies. Along this pathway the role of civil society, community-based organisations, governments, funders and donors is critical to collaboratively fast-track the realisation of HIV epidemic control.’
Several researchers from UKZN will participate in the conference.
Words: Lungile Ngubelanga and Nosipho Mngoma