212. Perinatal HIV Research Unit, Soweto, South Africa

One of Africa’s leading research centres, the Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU) is situated at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital—known locally as ‘Bara’—in Soweto, Johannesburg. PHRU engages in research, training, policy-formulation and advocacy concerning HIV-positive people and their children.

Specifically, PHRU conducts adult, paediatric and adolescent HIV treatment research, HIV prevention research and investigations into tuberculosis and other HIV co-infections. In addition to the numerous pharmaceutical and publicly-funded clinical trials PHRU continues to carry out, the unit also conducts important behavioural and social science research, advocates for research access and provides needed care to the people of Soweto.

There Are Two Summer Projects Available:

One student will be placed at the Bio-Behavioural Research (BBR) Division of the PHRU. The division runs the AYAZAZI clinic (AYA means ‘adolescents and young adults while ZAZI means ‘knowing themselves’ in Zulu), which is a youth-centred facility accessible to all young people living in and around Soweto. The clinic provides sexual and reproductive health services, such as HCT and testing of other sexually transmitted infections as well as treatment of those infections, pregnancy, contraception and counselling at no cost. The division focuses on multi-disciplinary, cross-sectional and longitudinal research projects centred on adolescents and young adults between the ages 13-25 years and uses a combination of research methodologies to do so. 

The second student will be placed at Programs Implementation Division. This division is currently working on a number of HIV, TB and Tobacco Smoking projects across multiple sites in South Africa. The objective of one of our projects is to collect tobacco smoking, Latent TB Infection (LTBI) and nutritional information, in order to measure the prevalence of smoking, LTBI and BMI in men aged 10-34 who are attending circumcision clinics in South Africa. Additionally to, look at associations with smoking and other health risk behaviours. Another study’s objective is to assess and compare early HIV incidence in men circumcised either with PrePex device or surgically, within 6 months following circumcision. 


The intern will be involved in the analysis of existing qualitative and/or quantitative research data. The main output of this placement will be linked to abstract and manuscript submissions. In addition, the intern will assist with the coordination of a community outreach event. Site visits and assessment of project deliverables

  • Perform literature reviews for abstract and manuscript write-up
  • Qualitative and/or quantitative analyses and interpretation of results
  • Write-up of an abstract and manuscript
  • Responding to and incorporating regular feedback from project investigators and co-authors that shall reflect on the final abstract and manuscript
  • Assist with the coordination of a community outreach event


  • Experience in analyzing and interpreting qualitative and quantitative datasets
  • Experience in writing literature reviews, abstracts and manuscripts
  • Ability to work independently
  • Clear passion for working in global health contexts.
  • Empathy towards people living with HIV and TB
  • Please note, this internship is open to rising juniors and above

Internship Dates

This internship will run from approximately June 1 - July 31, and accomodations through the University of the Witwatersrand are reserved for these dates.

Brief descriptions from the Summer 2017 Fellows:

“This summer, I have the privilege of working at PHRU, the Perinatal Research Unit, at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, South Africa. As HIV treatment becomes more readily available and accessible in South Africa, the exciting projects I am working on focus on the intersection of behavioral psychology, mental health, and medical research in order to explore and discover how to increase uptake of HIV prevention, testing, and treatment in adolescents and adults alike. Specifically, two of the projects I'm working on focus on using social media to increase HIV testing in adolescents and mitigating stigma to increase treatment adherence.” – Maetal Haas-Kogan

“I am doing HIV research for the Perinatal HIV Research Unit at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, South Africa. I am researching the co-infection between tuberculosis and HIV, as well as looking at social desirability in HIV, and testing the effectiveness of HIV self tests.” – Brianna Oppong-Antwi

“This summer I have been working in the Perinatal HIV Research Unit in Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, one of the leading organization in HIV/AIDS treatment and TB research in South Africa. I have been helping to analyze the effect that social desirability responding bias has on the self-reported hygiene practices of adolescent women and how this relates to their laboratory measured HIV/ STI statuses. In addition to writing this manuscript, I have been visiting the several communities in South Africa PHRU serves and of course, enjoying braais, markets and the company of amazing people along the way.” – Sandra Ojeaburu

Click here for instructions on how to apply.

See also: See All, ISURGH, Africa