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Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (Wits RHI)

The Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (Wits RHI) is a leading African research institute focusing on HIV, sexual and reproductive health (SRH), and vaccine preventable diseases (VPD).

Who We Are

Wits RHI was established by Professor Helen Rees in 1994 to support the new South African government in formulating and implementing national policies around sexual and reproductive health. Today we are the largest research institute of the University of the Witwatersrand, and form part of the Faculty of Health Sciences. We are a UNAIDS and South African Medical Research Council (SA MRC) collaborating centre, World Health Organisation (WHO) collaboration centre, as well as a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) strategic partner.

What We Do

Our strength lies in our multi-disciplinary and holistic approach to improving health outcomes at a local and global level through research, technical assistance, advocacy, policy development and health systems strengthening. We identify health problems through sound epidemiological methods and qualitative research, use a range of analytic and research methods to generate evidence, and test and evaluate interventions in a real-world setting.

Our Strategic Enablers

Population in need – We focus on target populations where the greatest impact of health interventions can be made

Location focus – We maintain a strong body of work in South Africa and leverage it to support improvements in the region and globally

Innovation and technology applications – We use innovative approaches and leverage technological solutions to improve health outcomes

Collaboration for change – We leverage collaborations and partnerships to ensure broader impact


Our Focus Areas


Our work encompasses most aspects of HIV related work and it addresses most issues along the HIV continuum. Our focus ranges from HIV prevention technologies to improving approaches on HIV care and treatment, to optimising antiretroviral treatment, and developing models of care for key populations and marginalised groups. Our care and treatment implementation is divided into two categories: treatment optimisation and health systems interventions.

Treatment Optimisation

Our work on treatment optimisation explores the possibilities of reducing the cost of HIV treatment in order to make it possible to treat more patients. New, simpler, safer, more potent and potentially more cost-effective antiretroviral therapy (ART) regimens are needed. Our current projects are aimed at improving first and second ART regimens whilst maintaining efficacy.

HIV Prevention

Female controlled HIV prevention methods where women make independent decisions about their own health, not only empowers women but can safely help reduce new HIV infections. We are involved in the global search for biomedical interventions that allow women and young girls to address multiple sexual and reproductive health issues with one product.

Health Systems Interventions

Our health system interventions span the full spectrum of populations from infants to adolescents, adults, pregnant women and key populations. Health systems interventions encompass a range of programmes, studies and initiatives which are all intended to improve public health systems.

Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH)

We have established SRH portfolios relating to women’s health and STIs. We are committed to providing integrated SRH care that is informed by scientific research. Our strategy includes providing SRH information and services that encompasses family planning, prevention treatment and care of STIs including HIV.

Vaccine Preventable Diseases (VPD)

Vaccine preventable diseases (VPD) are a relatively new but increasingly important focus area for Wits RHI. We have been involved in vaccine clinical trials and implementation science on the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and tuberculosis (TB) vaccines. We have published on the HPV vaccine implementation and programme feasibility, and have also evaluated the National Department of Health’s national HPV vaccine programme. We are also developing an adolescent platform for vaccines, and maternal-infant pair groups.

line-dividerWho We Serve

Much of our work is with populations that are most in need, marginalised, or hard-to-reach and these include:

  • Women
  • Pregnant women and mother-infant pairs
  • Adolescents (male and female)
  • Adults and children living with HIV/TB
  • Key Populations in particular female sex workers, men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people

Where We Work

Wits RHI’s head office is located in the Hugh Solomon Building, a heritage site within the Hillbrow Health Precinct (HHP). The vision of HHP is to tackle health and support urban renewal in Johannesburg’s inner city by providing the community with quality health care services.

Wits RHI works across all of South Africa’s nine provinces, with Wits RHI driven projects in six provinces: Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

Contact Us

For more information contact:
Wits Reproductive Health & HIV Institute
Hillbrow Health Precinct
22 Esselen Street
Hillbrow 2001

Tel: +27 11 358 5500 Fax: +27 11 358 5303