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Prof Frank Tanser

Inaugural lecture:

23 April 2024 @ 17:3019:00

The rise (and fall?) of South Africa’s HIV epidemic: a personal perspective

Prof Frank Tanser’s inaugural lecture offers an overview of his academic journey. In particular, the lecture focuses on the seminal work he undertook in northern KwaZulu-Natal over a period of 25 years, utilising one of the world’s largest population-based HIV cohorts. The results of this work have informed HIV prevention and treatment policy throughout sub-Saharan Africa.


Short biography

Prof Frank Tanser is a South African epidemiologist specialising in infectious diseases. His research focuses on the epidemiology of important public health problems in rural African communities.

His pivotal work over the past 25 years in a South African rural community decimated by HIV has provided substantial insights into the evolving and dynamic nature of the HIV epidemic and its key drivers, informing HIV prevention and treatment in sub-Saharan Africa. Frank’s research into the population-level impact of the antiretroviral therapy (ART) roll-out has resulted in wide-reaching and rapid changes in government policy on how ART programmes in Africa are designed and implemented. In particular, his seminal study published in the journal Science was the first to show that nurse-led, decentralised HIV programmes in rural areas could successfully reduce HIV transmission at the population level.

Frank was recently honoured with the South African Medical Research Council’s gold medal in recognition of his research excellence. The medal rewards “outstanding scientists who have undertaken seminal research that has impacted on the health of populations in developing countries”. In 2019, the Royal Geographical Society also awarded him the Back Medal for “conducting applied research that has made an outstanding contribution to the development of national or international public policy”.



23 April 2024

Organizer (event)

Amira Brown


STIAS Wallenberg Research Centre
10 Marais Road
Stellenbosch, 7600 South Africa
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