AIDS and Society Research Unit Overview


ASRU is an inter-disciplinary research unit that conducts mixed methods social science research on the HIV epidemic and related health matters.  Research activities range from detailed local level analysis (ASRU has led several surveys of people living with AIDS in Cape Town) to studies on antiretroviral treatment adherence, HIV as a challenge of development, and on the social and experiential dimensions of living with HIV.

At present, ASRU’s largest project is the Mzantsi Wakho study ( In 2017, this is the largest known community-traced study of HIV-positive adolescents. Mzantsi Wakho focuses on adherence to antiretroviral treatment and sexual health practices. The project has two offices in the Eastern Cape (in King Williams Town and East London) and is currently in its third wave of data collection.

The Mzantsi Wakho study echoes the CSSR’s focus on research that shapes policy and practice. The interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of this study, and its inclusion of a range of partners, aims to inform a broad-based, inclusive approach to HIV policy and programming. Since the study is planned in collaboration with teenagers, as well as state and non-state partners at local, national and global levels, it provides an opportunity to bring the experiences of youth into the policy arena. Results are shared with NGOs, CBOs and participating communities, as well as bilateral agencies and government partners, on an ongoing basis.