Second Quarter Newsletter

IAVI #YOUTHTALK Workshop 9th/10th May 2017

For the second year, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) partnered with us to host an exciting and informative research workshop at the River Club Conference Centre. We were delighted to welcome IAVI representatives from Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda and many other local organisations.

Research has shown that unless new HIV infections among adolescents are reduced we will never get the HIV epidemic under control.   Dr. Rebecca Marcus, a close friend of the DTHF now in London, gave an outstanding presentation on the development of the human brain from birth to adulthood with a focus on development in adolescence.    We learned why adolescence is a challenging period both for the individual and for those who are concerned for their welfare.

Rebecca Marcus
Rebecca Marcus                                           

Many other excellent presentations gave a wide perspective on the science and behavioral science of what it means to grow up in an HIV environment.    Interesting videos highlighted successes and challenges and the conference closed with some creative participatory sessions led by the young women ‘Ignitors’ from the DTHF Women of Worth project.    Ndumiso’s encouragement (persuasion) to tweet comments and selfies added to the buzz.

Take away points:

  • No decisions should be made about youth, decisions and discussions regarding youth should be made with
  • The primary consideration should always be – what is in the best interest of the child (a minor is a child under 18 years).

It was made clear by a number of presenters that the adolescents of today are very different to previous generations.   They communicate frequently via social media often in their own lingo, they want to be real – they are who they are, take them as they are.   Adolescents are comfortable in diversity and expect innovation.   Adolescents are eager to turn challenges into opportunities.

Comment from Linda–Gail:    “We have just concluded a MOST successful IAVI/DTHF Adolescent research workshop and I want to thank ALL who took part. The standard of talks and inputs were just wonderful ….the participation from the floor was excellent and the energy and enthusiasm just reverberated for 48 hours and I am sure will power us on for months to come.”

IAVI team from Kenya
IAVI team from Kenya

Plenty to talk about!
Plenty to talk about!

SA AIDS 2017 – Durban – Brian Kanyemba

Brian Kanyemba and Karen Donimguez
Brian Kanyemba and Karen Donimguez

The conference came at a very exciting moment where implementation research on PrEP, new prevention technologies such as Antibody Mediated Prevention Studies (AMP), injectable PrEP studies, as well as the anticipated RV702 Vaccine Study are on the South African radar and currently being conducted at DTHF/C. It will be exciting to see what will be available in our prevention tool boxes in the next few years.

I was a conference chair, Track 4: Ethics, Marginalization and the Protection of Human Rights. This track provided an opportunity for conference attendees to examine and share issues relating to marginalized groups such as sex workers, LGBTIQA, miners, farm workers and travelers, and their challenges and successes that relate to the AIDS epidemic. It offered the opportunity for marginalized communities to be centre stage and engage in discussions on how marginalization has affected the response to the epidemic and approaches to overcoming these challenges.

The conference provided novel approaches to create social acceptability of new prevention technologies post trial, not only for trial participants but also for those who will need them.

Karen Donimguez presented a paper: STI Prevalence Among MSM Recruited for Biomedical Studies in Cape Town from 2014-2016.
Brian Kanyemba presented a paper at the Adherence 2017 Conference in Miami: Predictors of adherence among Black Men who have Sex with Men.


 Key Populations Division

 Katherine, Amelia, Brian, Karen and Nondikho – at the SA AIDS conference

Katherine, Amelia, Brian, Karen, and Nondikho – at the SA AIDS conference

We have completed the Sibanye Multi Prevention Study and presented the positive results to stakeholders and participants.  We are working on the HPTN 075 Study, this is a feasibility study.  We have had the final study visits and the results and dissemination are expected at the end of the year. We are about to commence the first ever-injectable PrEP (HPTN 083) study.

Sadly Karen is leaving us to return to the US.  She has shared her passion, integrity, and expertise with us over four years.  We will miss her always-supporting role, we have become a family so feel the loss of an integral part of our team.




Zimele: Philippi Village –  Amy Wilmot

Tree planting at Philippi Village
Tree planting at Philippi Village

The Zimele team has pushed FULL steam ahead since January 2017 with recruitment and BROCCOLI bio-metric registration of participants.   It has not been an easy road but we are getting there.   As Colleen Herman, Clinical Operations Manager likes to say, ‘There are 3 stages that this project will go through: Storming, Norming, and Performing.  We were storming for the first few months, are reaching Norming, and ultimately will be Performing’’. Our goal is to help the young women of the Mitchells Plain & Klipfontein sub-district recognise their own potential and take responsibility for their lives, and we know that will happen.    In the past few months, the following events have taken place – just to name a few!

  • Heideveld CDC AYFS (Adolescent Youth Friendly Services) event.
  • AYFS workshop at Mitchell’s Plain District Hospital.
  • Celebrating Youth Day – Vuyiseka Community Hall, Philippi.
  • Morgenson Primary School Soul Buddyz Club at Red Cross.
  • Broccoli registration – Keeping Girls in School Team.
  • Women of Worth (WOW) tree planting ceremony initiating the project.
Gifts of sanitary pads
Gifts of sanitary pads

Our big challenge is recruitment and adherence.   Creativity and innovation are key words for the team and finding the right approach to engage with diverse groups in age and language.    Finance is also an issue.   This is the ‘real’ generation who want to touch, feel and know before making a commitment.


I want to acknowledge the perseverance and commitment of the fantastic Zimele Team.   This project was never going to be easy, to reach 20 000 young people is a mammoth task – but this team is amazing, every single member.   They are determined, and we are confident that we will achieve our goal.    #zimeleteamrocks





J52 Clinical Trials’ Unit – Drs Precious Garnett & Yashna Singh

A highlight at J52 this quarter has been exploring healing beyond the biomedical approach. Last year we started an adolescent support group for the young adults in our research studies who are perinatally HIV infected. We wanted to provide a safe space to help them explore their feelings, share their experiences, and support one another. The purpose was to enable them to cope with the burden of having to take medications every day for the rest of their lives. Many of them struggle with anger towards their parents and themselves, around this illness.

A challenge has been to bring parents on board when problems have been identified with individual adolescents and bring about harmony in the family, this is difficult bearing in mind they were perinatally infected with HIV and adolescents can be a challenge purely because they are adolescents.   We try innovative ways to discuss difficult topics with them, yet also allowing them to express themselves.

Yoga with Yashna
Yoga with Dr. Yashna Singh

We are exploring some fun interventions to facilitate emotional/ psychological healing and sense of self-worth.  Dr. Yashna Singh is also a yoga teacher and she facilitated a yoga session at the Scout Hall in Gugulethu.  This was fun for the adolescents and also our support staff,  Nontle Madinga and Nobafundi Dondolo their ‘research mamas’.   On the last day of the school term( 30 June 2017), we are planning a Music and Dance therapy session with an acclaimed musician who is giving his time and expertise free of charge – (big thanks for that).   A camp is also planned for the end of the year, although we do need more adolescents to make a bigger group in order to book this.



G.R.O. celebrates 1st Anniversary

The Gugulethu Research Office is one year old!    The staff operates out of a group of containers on land next to the Scout Hall adjacent to Hannan Crusaid Treatment Centre.   The site houses Prof Catherine Orrell’s  antiretroviral adherence community-based research.   Three adherence studies are currently under way – the META study, Add-ART and the Treatment Ambassador Team programme. The META (Measuring Early Treatment Adherence) team was delighted to move to the new premises as they have been working out of a single room at the JL Zwane Church.

Lihle Mvumbi with Drs Cathy Kalombo and Anna Cross
Lihle Mvumbi with Drs Cathy Kalombo and Anna Cross

We enjoy a close partnership with Provincial staff at Hannan Crusaid.    After a year of planning and red tape, we have finally managed to renovate their reception area.    Prior to the renovation, the patient folders were in a stackable shelving system that only one clerk could access at a time.   We have extended the filing area into the boardroom and put in an open shelving system.   This outcome has been easier access for staff and shorter waiting periods for patients.

The Province staff are very grateful for our help as Shahida Jacobs commented:

Thank you to all who have been involved in initiating and getting the renovations complete. The area looks good with enough space for folders and movement of staff.  We look forward to getting the folders in boxes (currently in kitchen, reception, and boardroom) back onto the shelves soon. Thank you once again to the DT team for your ongoing support .”



Girl Power – Laura Myers

Girl Power
Girl Power

As the Girl Power study moves into its final stage, participants at Crossroads 2 Community Health Clinic are starting to complete the empowerment programme.   Led by outstanding facilitators, the programme consisted of 12 creative sessions that focused on goal-setting, relationship communication, contraception, HIV prevention, gender-based violence, and employment and financial skills in order to help young women make good choices about their health, feel empowered in their relationships and confident to achieve their goals.  Participants have really enjoyed the final session, where they become ‘Queens for the day’ as they reflect on the journey they’ve been on during their year in Girl Power, take time to affirm each other, and finish feeling a greater sense of how to harness their own ‘girl power’ in the future.  Participants who attended the most sessions receive a certificate and a menstrual cup in recognition of their commitment.



DTHF Youth Centre:  Youth Day 16th June – Khanyiselo Silo

The theme for Youth Day 2017 was “ROAD TO WELLBEING”.  The Youth Centre organized soccer and netball tournaments and collaborated with six other organizations in the area, showcasing what each offer to youth.    There were talks on health followed by singing and dancing performances and, of course, prizes.   It was a most successful day of celebration and fun for the youth of Masi.



Musa Sokomane is an intern at the Youth Centre, “The Youth Day event was a very important event for me, I was able to have fun, learn how to lead my peers and this was made possible by the Youth Centre. I have learned so much and I now have an idea of the challenges our Youth face.

Sbulele Mpahlwa, Msawenkosi Sokomane and Anele Ngqokwe show off the gifts
Sbulele Mpahlwa, Msawenkosi Sokomane, and Anele Ngqokwe show off the gifts

The Youth Centre is blessed with supporters committed to improving the lives of youth in Masiphumelele and Ocean View. JP Skinner, a South African now living in Holland and his wife, Renate Vink are among these. They founded an NPO, Support Orphans in South Africa and have visited the Youth Centre a number of times – always laden with gifts of stationery, etc.

In 2014 with support from JP, Shayne Rookhuyzen rode his bike from Cairo to Cape Town, right to the Youth Centre where he received a thunderous drumming welcome – a distance of 11 000ks. He raised over R400 000 for three orphanages and the YC. JP and Renate’s generosity and caring continues and they have sent another generous donation of gift vouchers to purchase games and goodies for our youth. The shopping spree was linked to Youth Day – so there was much to celebrate on 16th June.   Thank you, JP and Renate we deeply appreciate your support and caring.


DTHF launched into CROWDFUNDING for the Women of Worth (WOW) project.    We want to enhance the benefits of the monthly modules of this programme; to do this we need more money.   Thanks to Amy Wilmot, who is always ready for a challenge, we embarked on a crowdfunding campaign through Thundafund – with a target of R100 000.

Our amazing supporters did us proud and we raised a total of R66 900.   Very special thanks to several major donors who gave particularly generously, and to DTHF staff who also contributed.

MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet

DTHF is a non-profit organisation.   We need to raise money in order to go the extra mile for our communities, and some projects are not funded by research grants and are dependent upon donations from the public.

YOU, your friends and family can help at no costSign up for a My Village card and shop at Woolworths and other stores linked to the system and with every purchase and swipe of your My Village card – that store will put money into our account.

In two months we have raised R348.88!    We have 38 card holders supporting the DTHF through My Village – thanks to each one of you!   Imagine how much more money we can raise if more of our friends and family participated.   You may not always shop at Woollies, but even occasional purchases will help.  Click on the link to get a form.


Employees of the quarter (April – June)
Employees of the quarter (April – June)

 Tracey Swinerd (nominated by Katherine Gill):

Tracey is the kind of person who gets on with things. There is work that needs to be done and she does it quickly and efficiently with zero drama. Tracey graciously stepped in to help the Masi finance team during a difficult period – this means lots of hours of extra work at night and over weekends but she cheerfully and efficiently rose to the challenge. You embrace the value of progress .

Thank you Tracey ! We honour you for your reliability and for helping us when we needed you.

Value – Progress

Asavela Sodinga (nominated by Prof Linda-Gail Bekker and Philip Smith):

I asked Phil to send this to me after he called out your excellent work at an Ops meeting – this is so that I can personally thank you for your role in the hand over and your professionalism in your duties.

Well done!  And a huge thank you –

warmest wishes


To Linda-Gail from Philip Smith:  As requested, just a note to draw your attention to Asavela and her above and beyond efforts ensuring that TT staff were supported, even though she had moved to her new project, and for ensuring a smooth transition-in for the new CNP leading the team.

It is just a delight when colleagues assist and go the extra mile for one another!

Values – Excellence and Passion

Phyllisity Smith (nominated by Christie Heiberg):

Murphy has done an amazing job of keeping everything together while there were tsunami waves of change around her.  She manages the blood room and the flow of the participants through the clinic as well as overseeing all the study procedures.  She is the go-to, the memory, the one with the answers.  And she does it all with grace, humility, friendliness, excellence and a precious smile.

Murphy has been working with a number of new staff members, showing them the ropes and passing on her extensive knowledge of everything about and everyone on our studies, with passion and genuine care.   Murphy, thank you for all you do, every single bit of it!

Value – Excellence

Philosophy Brave Bangira (nominated by Nehemiah Simango):

Brave is always up for new challenges and works very hard in the community to make sure all safe space members are updated about all events and the studies we are running. He is always in the office on time and leaves the office after he has done his ‘’do to list’’ for the day.

Value – Integrity, Respect, Excellence

Prashnathan Naidoo (nominated by Karen Brooks):

Prash really enjoys solving the users problems and has contributed immensely to IT’s success in becoming a division that is there to assist all projects in making sure their systems work. He has a good, easy going manner, has great integrity and solves problems very quickly. A true asset to our organisation!

Values – Passion, Respect, Excellence

Edgar October (nominated by Karen Dominquez and Christie Heiberg):

Edgar is amazing!  He has been so helpful in accommodating our extra driving requests and always does so with a smiling face.  No matter what, we can trust him to do what needs to be done, and know that it

will be done with excellence and passion!!!  We truly appreciate his willingness to assist us with our ever increasing demands.

Values – Excellence and Passion

Nicola Kelly (nominated by Nomakhaya April):

Nicola Kelly is a very innovative, responsible worker. She is a team builder and a leader that respects her juniors as much as her seniors. She is always willing to put in extra effort and hours to achieve her work goals without expecting any rewards.   She always encourages her employees to achieve the best and do the best. She sympathizes with staff on personal matters and always offers psychological support when needed.

I believe that she deserves to be recognized for her dedication to serve at DTHF and I appreciate her as my line manager.

Values – Innovation and respect

Amelia Cordelia Mfiki (nominated by Brave Bangira):

Amelia has been great since she joined the Key Population’s Division especially on recruitment strategies.   Some of the changes that she has made within the Foundation are as follows:

She has connected the Key Pops Division with all the stake holders around Cape Town by holding a community stakeholders meeting. The whole idea was for us to reach out to every part of the community and present the clinical trials studies that the GSH CTU is undertaking. The Key Population is now well known by everyone in the community not just the msm community. She also came up with the idea of having meetings with all the organisations that are working with msm. This will help in planning our community engagement events so our events do not clash since we are working in the same communities.

We never knew the purpose of the CAB since it was created but now since she is involved there has been a change. CAB members are now visible in the recruitment and retention activities. She is so focused and multitasking on everything that she does.  Also very good on communication, always available when she is needed even when she is working in the community you will never notice that she is not in the office. Lastly she is a good team leader.

She has restructured the CAB as well as strengthened the recruitment and retention strategies.

Value – Innovation

Angela Mpekula (nominated by Dr Baningi Mkhize):

Ms Mpekula joined the Emavundleni Research Centre as a Regulatory Assistant in November 2016. At the time the Regulatory Affairs Manager had just resigned and the permanent Regulatory Assistant was on maternity leave. Although she had never done any regulatory work in the past, she single-handedly managed the Regulatory Section with incredible efficiency.  She had all the necessary protocol submissions to the Ethics Committee and the Medicines Control Council done on time for most of the first few months of 2017. She works until late when she is chasing a target.  She is a great team player, has a pleasant personality and will go an extra mile to assist other staff members.

All the DTHF values resonate with Ms Mpekula, but the one that most resonates with her is PASSION.

Value – Passion

Laura Myers (nominated by Katherine Gill):

Laura has been nominated by Masi because of her PASSION and INNOVATION for communications. The team at Masi often feel quite isolated and far from the other Sites. Laura has made a big effort to include us in the Friday lunch time presentations. This spirit of inclusiveness and innovation and determination to reach as many of the teams as possible is appreciated.

Thanks Laura !

Values – Passion and Innovation

Angela Wood (nominated by Giuseppe Degouveia)

Angela goes above the call of duty by finding innovative ways to solve problems that have otherwise been insoluble by other staff members, e.g. CRS staff member travel subsistence and ticket had not been reimbursed three months post date of travel.   Angela got involved although not really her role and canvassed, chased, and physically tracked the issue surrounding the non-payment.   She solved the problem and put real time documents and processes in place to avoid this happening again.

Values – Passion and Innovation

Zanyiwe Mavubengwana (nominated by Keshani Naidoo):

Zanyiwe works as a community outreach worker, she also works in the youth centre in her spare time. She had identified that the young adolescents have issues with getting pads and had reached out to the community, staff, and on Facebook to initiate a pads drive.

She also has classes that she holds in the community for the growth of her community. She facilitates the daily functioning at the site and goes the extra mile at a drop of a hat.

Values: Passion: She has a passion to forward the lives of others

Innovation: She took the initiative to do a PAD campaign to make a change for young women.

Excellence: She is striving for excellence in all that she does

Progress: She is completing her matric so she can grow and develop

Respect: She has respect for those she works for and those around her

Integrity: She has integrity in her work.

Some colleagues are leaving us, we thank them for their contribution to our work:

Carmenita Braaf Tamrin Dyers Linda Mqikela Sadieka Najaar
Nthoesele Letoao Karen Dominguez Mandy Novis Gavin Manuels

We welcome the following colleagues to the DTHF family:

Anele Gqwetu Yonela Booi Nadia Ahmed Julie-Ann Coombs
Lauren Fynn Thando Wonxie Vuyokazi Matiwana Yonela Booi
Busisiwe Nomnga Nomthandazo Ngaziwa Phindiwe Yenana Ruth Gona
Angelina Lingani-Ngubu Tarrin Petersen Mfundo Habasisa  Nokwazi Tsawe
Ngcwalisa Jama Menna Duvyer Catherina van der Post Aletha van der Post
Robin Julies Nangamso Ngcuka Anelisiwe Ngcuka Candice Lee Beukes
Farhaanah Fortune Khayakazi Ddzebedzeze Prisca Vundhla Athini Golinah
Sabo Dlelengana Nonela Mdutyana Portia Klaas Prashanthan Naidoo
Siphesile Mlokoti Thandokazi Mhambi Yonela Galada