The Swaziland AIDS Research Network was officially founded in July 2012 at the International AIDS Conference in Washington DC. It was originally organized as a way to coordinate the Swazi presence at the conference through pre-meetings, coordinated publicity about Swaziland related research at the conference, and a series of “Friends of Swaziland” special interest group meetings.
These “Friends of Swaziland” became the Swaziland AIDS Research Network, which is now a consortium of local and international researchers, as well as advocates, community partners, and government officials who are dedicated to conducting and sharing their research to inform national policy, refine HIV prevention and support efforts, and improve the lives of all those living in Swaziland whose lives are touched in some way by HIV.
Swaziland is a small nation in southern Africa with a population of just over one million people, and an adult HIV prevalence of 26.2%. In Swaziland, AIDS affects every segment of the population, although women and people with lower levels of formal education seem to be at particularly high risk. About 8 in 10 people who are in need of anti-retroviral therapy receive it free of charge from the government. The national response is coordinated by the National Emergency Council on HIV/AIDS (NERCHA) which works with many partners in many fields – public, private, local, and international – to prevent HIV in Swaziland and support those who are currently living with the virus.
SARN exists in order to promote communication between international and local research teams who live and work in (or care about) the nation of Swaziland. We believe that collaborative, multidisciplinary research is a necessary component to the AIDS response in Swaziland. We also believe research must be translated into practical media that are accessible, useful, and sustainable within the nation of Swaziland.