The Gugulethu Clinical Research Site focuses on HIV and tuberculosis (TB) treatment and prevention, with a strong emphasis on adherence to treatment guidelines and preventative measures. Various studies are in progress that assess adherence to antiretroviral therapy and how this might be administered more efficiently and effectively.
The DTHF began working at Gugulethu Community Health Centre in the late 1990s when HIV was having a devastating impact in the townships around Cape Town. In 2005, the DTHF was instrumental in raising funds to build the Hannan Crusaid Treatment Centre on the site. This was also home to the Sizophila Therapeutic Counsellors, a group of patients who were trained in all aspects of HIV treatment and became the first lay HIV counsellors. Based on the success of this initiative, the model was adopted by the National Department of Health.
The research team received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others that allowed them to move their research operations to the adjacent Scout Hall property in 2016. Today, the Gugulethu Clinical Research Site is a fully-accredited Division of AIDS (DAIDS) research site consisting of four shared interview rooms, two offices, a data and a phlebotomy room. Through its adherence and prevention research, it has become a leader in the use of electronic pill boxes as well as the use of dried blood spots. In addition to its observational and interventional quantitative studies, the team conducts qualitative studies and facilitates recruitment for TB/HIV pharmacokinetic studies at the UCT Department of Pharmacology.