What We Do:

Wits RHI is a hybrid research and implementation Institute that is dynamic, progressive, and responsive to global and local health emergencies. We pioneer cutting-edge science and innovation in the fields of infectious and vaccine preventable diseases; sexual and reproductive health; antimicrobial resistance,climate change and emerging crises.

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, implementation science and health systems strengthening. We identify health problems through sound epidemiological methods and qualitative research, and use a range of analytic and research methods to generate evidence and test and evaluate interventions in a real word setting.
We are the largest and most renowned research institute affiliated with the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), a world class African University.

We are a Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) and South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) collaborating centre and a strategic partner to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Who We Serve

Our work is focused on populations that are most in need, marginalized, or hard to reach. These include:

  • Pregnant women and mother-infant pairs
  • Women
  • Key populations including adolescents, sex workers and LGBTQI people
  • Adults and children living with HIV and TB

Where we are

Hillbrow Health Precinct

The Wits RHI head office is in the Hillbrow Health Precinct (HHP) which was established in 2004 with the aim creating a visionary, world-first environment that stands at the intersection of urban regeneration, cutting edge research and community based health care.
Since inception it has delivered outstanding health services and health care worker training, developed best practice models and implemented world class research addressing a range of critical health areas, poverty and urban renewal in Johannesburg’s inner city.

It is a model of co-operation, uniting the Gauteng Department of Health, the City of Johannesburg and Wits University represented by Wits RHI together into a unique and effective partnership.

Five previously derelict buildings have been renovated to house offices, The Shandukani and Ward 21 research sites, patient treatment clinics, three A Grade Pharmacies, and three laboratories.

South Africa

Wits RHI projects work out of 52 sites across South Africa. Most of these sites are projects where we deliver key Implementation Science and Health Programs projects, including HIV prevention, HIV and TB care to general and key populations.


We have collaborated with organisations across Africa for many years. At present we work with partners in 18 African countries.

Wits RHI in Numbers

Staff Members
Research and Implementation Sites
Current Active Grants
Academic Joint Appointments
Provides technological support to national, regional, and global committees (2023)
Published academic journals and book chapters (2023)
People initiated onto PrEP ( 2018 – 2024)
People treated monthly for HIV (2023)

Our leadership

Helen Rees

Executive Director

Sinead Delany-Moretlwe

Director: Research

Thesla Palanee-Phillips

Director: Clinical Trials

Lee Fairlie

Director: Maternal and Child Health

Saiqa Mullick

Director: Implementation Science

John Imrie

Director: Health Programmes

Latest Publications

HPV vaccination switching to single-dose and private schools to get government supply

Professor Sinead Delany-Moretlwe, Director of Research at Wits RHI, told Spotlight that existing data suggests “if you’re on antiretroviral therapy, you’re likely to have the same response to a single dose as someone who is not living with HIV”. A very small fraction of girls in South Africa are HIV positive at the age that they are eligible for HPV vaccination, she said, adding that HIV-positive girls in this age group are typically infected perinatally and are already on antiretroviral treatment.

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HPV vaccination switching to single-dose and private schools to get government supply

Professor Sinead Delany-Moretlwe, Director of Research at Wits RHI, told Spotlight that existing data suggests “if you’re on antiretroviral therapy, you’re likely to have the same response to a single…

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How can we help pregnant women better cope with heat?

Pairing research with action. That's the question that drives Gloria Maimela, who heads the climate and health group at the University of the Witwatersrand's Reproductive Health HIV Institute in South…

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SA professor appointed co-principal investigator in landmark HIV prevention network

Sinéad Delany-Moretlwe has been selected as a co-principal investigator for the groundbreaking HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN).  HPTN is a collaborative clinical trials network with 67 sites in North and South America, Africa and…

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Prof Helen Rees Delivered a Keynote Address at the International Pandemic Sciences Conference 2024

On 1 July 2024, Prof Helen Rees, Executive Director of Wits RHI, delivered a keynote address at the International Pandemic Sciences Conference 2024, hosted by the Pandemic Sciences Institute at…

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Wits RHI in the News

Professor Sinead Delany-Moretlwe, Director of Research at Wits RHI, told…

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The African Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator, launched in Paris on 20…

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Early results from an HIV prevention trial show that an…

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