HIV and AIDS Research in Complex Contexts of Inequality (HARICCI)


The HARICCI Collaboration develops and implements an interconnected body of research studies, symposia, fellowships, and participatory interventions that  build on existing research programmes and partnerships across the university. It addresses  migration,  inequality and substance abuse as both entry points and cross-cutting themes, engaging HIV, health, education, and gender-focused issues and societal responses.  

The collaboration is housed in the Centre for Research in HIV and AIDS at the UWC's School of Public Health. Within UWC, HARICCI actively engages several schools, departments and faculties. Thse include the schools of Public Health and Social Work, the Faculty of Education, the departments of Psychology and Sociology and Anthropology ( through the RASH Program- Research on the Anthropology and Sociology of Health), the Women's and Gender Studies Unit, and the UWC HIV and AIDS Programme. Beyond UWC, the HARICCI Collaboration includes the Medical Research Council, New York University, the University of Bristol, Sonke Gender Justice Network, and the Adonis Musati Project, as well as community co-investigators.

Opportunities to engage, exchange, mentor and learn from colleagues in different departments and institutions, addressing complementary levels or dimensions of these issues, are at the heart of HARICCI, which seeks to “join up” diverse and complementary approaches to the individual-family-community-society ecosystem rather than to impose a single “scaled up” approach to research or intervention.

Two new projects under the HARICCI Collaboration are currently underway:

  • Ethnographic Exploration of Migration, Health and Social Support in the Cape Metropole
  • Irregular Migration, Human Trafficking and HIV/AIDS in South Africa: Baseline Situation Analysis

Ethnographic Exploration of Migration, Health and Social Support in the Cape Metropole


This is a pilot study for the  component of HARICCI examining “Migration, Mental Health and HIV among African migrants and local communities in South Africa”. We seek to understand how risk, vulnerability and violence (structural, interpersonal, sexual, and as relevant political) are experienced and managed by migrant, refugee and local residents of poor high HIV-prevalence communities in South Africa.  We examine how individual and collective resilience emerge in the social and material contexts of these communities, exploring the extent to which and the ways in which the availability of and capacity to effectively access or mobilize personal, relational, social, institutional, and economic resources are key to mental health, collective resilience in the face of inequality and violence, and living positively with HIV. The research does not begin with a focus on HIV and services (government, NGO, community), seeking rather to arrive at deeper understanding and practical and policy implications for HIV prevention and care and for government, civil society and community services and interventions against both HIV and violence. The study is anchored in documenting and understanding the lived experience, priorities, concerns, agency, and social networks of men and women of different ages and life trajectories who are trying to thrive and not just survive in contexts of endemic structural, interpersonal and sexual violence and high rates (30% or more) of HIV.  

This primarily qualitative study based on ethnography, in-depth interviews, workshops, community and network mapping and analysis of secondary data will allow the development of research partnerships among academics, NGOs, and community members and generate the initial situation analyses needed to further elaborate research questions, methods, and instruments.  Crucially, it will identify the scientific, political, and ethical issues which must be taken into account in larger scale future research.
Contact: Christina Zarowsky,  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Irregular Migration, Human Trafficking and HIV/AIDS in South Africa: Baseline Situation Analysis


Despite increasing efforts at local, national and international levels, human trafficking has proved particularly resilient to remedial action, desperate and vulnerable individuals continuing to fall into bondage on every continent. Migration networks, especially illegal migration and trafficking in persons among countries, may in addition further compound the problem of HIV and AIDS, posing a risk of reversing some of the progress made in checking the pandemic,


Trafficking victims are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS due to their lack of power to negotiate sex. They lack access to medical care when infected due to the illegal migrant status and fear of repatriation. Johansen (2006) noted that in the current political climate of uncertainty for undocumented persons, fear of deportation and lack of access to health care may be increasing concerns. The stigmatisation accompanying both HIV/AIDS and human trafficking may compound the problem as infected trafficking victims try to avoid being stigmatised as either illegal migrant or as HIV positive person or both. This calls for efforts at finding solutions to the problem of human trafficking as one of the measures to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the countries of origin as well as destination for trafficking.


Many countries are involved in trafficking. South Africa however remains an important source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation (ILO,2005; Little,2004; Davidson, 2008 and US State Department ob Trafficking in Persons Report, 2008) and this forms the basis for this study focusing on South Africa. While both adults and children are victims of trafficking, children are more vulnerable to trafficking. In addition, adults tend to be affected by human smuggling in addition to trafficking, raising different legal and policy issues. This study will therefore will focus on the problem of child trafficking and HIV. It is a baseline situation analysis to inform further works in the broad area of migration and health. The study uses desk review, policy analysis and key informant interviews with policy makers and NGOs, private and public sector service providers in the area of migration and HIV to explore the following questions:- In what ways do the stakeholders perceive the problems of child trafficking in South Africa?

  • What are the issues surrounding possible linkages between child trafficking and HIV/AIDS that may need further studies in South Africa?
  • What are the problems confronting government agencies and NGOs working in South Africa in combating child trafficking?
  • What strategies are perceived by the stakeholders as workable for controlling the problem of child trafficking as a means for checking HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa?
  • What further research is needed in this area?

Contact: Joshua Aransiola This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.