Meet the CIPHER fellows

Kopano Dube

Year awarded: 2020
Institution: Stellenbosch University
Research site: South Africa
Primary mentor: Amy Slogrove, Stellenbosch University

Kopano Dube is a rural health researcher, clinical epidemiologist in training and Growing the Leaders of Tomorrow Fellow at the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa. She is conducting Phase II of the DECIPHER project. It aims to develop harmonized definitions of adverse birth outcomes, as well as neonatal morbidity and mortality outcomes, to be used within the HIV and the broader child health context.

More information on Kopano Dube | Email

“Findings about outcomes of HIV exposed and uninfected infants and children are often disparate, inconclusive and not generalizable – primarily due to heterogeneous outcome definitions. With this CIPHER fellowship, we will use substantiated approaches to inform a consensus process of adoption, adaptation or development of definitions. This will allow researchers anywhere to use these definitions in their context, irrespective of diagnostic capacities, so facilitating robust, high-quality, harmonized research.”

Research project: DECIPHER Phase 2: Birth outcomes & neonatal morbidity and mortality

The issue

The shift in policy to universal antiretroviral therapy (ART) for all persons living with HIV, together with the 90-90-90 treatment target, has ushered in the global ART era. Now, a large majority of pregnant women living with HIV are receiving ART during pregnancy, with a substantial proportion on ART at conception. Depending on the region, this has resulted in a considerable to moderate decline in the number of children newly infected with HIV; it has also led to an increase in the number of children who are HIV and ARV exposed in utero to approximately 1 million annually.

To maintain maternal confidence in ART and improve maternal uptake of ART for continued prevention of perinatal and postnatal transmission, research that focuses on the health and survival outcomes of children who are HIV exposed and uninfected must be scientifically robust and of the highest standard. This will facilitate the evidence-based development and implementation of policies and mechanisms that offer optimal benefit for this population.

The CIPHER project

With CIPHER support and the co-mentorship of Dr Amy Slogrove, Dr Kate Powis, Prof Mary-Ann Davis and the multidisciplinary DECIPHER project team, the study will utilize evidence-based approaches and tools to systematically search, review and extract data for mapping. The mapped data will be used to inform the consensus adoption, adaptation or de novo development of definitions.

The impact

By housing the resources and tools developed from the project on key sites that support researchers globally, Kopano Dube intends that her CIPHER project will directly contribute to the improvement of primary and secondary HIV paediatric studies. This will support the development of high-certainty evidence-based paediatric HIV policies. These will ensure that HIV-exposed and uninfected infants, as well as their HIV-unexposed and uninfected counterparts, not only survive, but thrive.

1st International Paediatric HIV Symposium in Africa - Virtual Symposium 17-18 November 2021




Annual international workshop on “Children and Adolescents HIV-Exposed and Uninfected”

CIPHER Grant Programme
Awards up to $150,000 to early-stage investigators to address critical research gaps in paediatric and adolescent HIV in resource-limited settings.

CIPHER Growing the Leaders of Tomorrow Fellowship
Provides support to young investigators in sub-Saharan Africa on priority research topics in paediatric and adolescent HIV clinical science.

CIPHER Global Cohort Collaboration
Brings together the largest collaboration of paediatric and adolescent HIV observational cohort networks to answer key questions of global public health.

Research agendas for paediatric and adolescent HIV