CHART was established in the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics (SRPC) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in response to four significant concerns:

  • HIV and AIDS is a major public health crisis that is affecting society at large and impacting on faith communities - and so touches all of us at SRPC, staff and students alike.
  • Religious entities and belief systems play both a positive and negative role in the impact of the epidemic, and so must be drawn into the discussion with the other role players.
  • The epidemic raises issues such as innocent suffering, exclusion, stigma and meaning and these are questions that call forth thoughtful religious, i.e. theological, reflection.
  • Despite the abundance of AIDS-related church documents and the multiplication of databases, networks, and forums, many policy makers and social scientists do not understand the role of faith based organisations in the fight against HIV and AIDS.


The School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics has responded to these concerns, and the issue of HIV and AIDS is mainstreamed into its life in a variety of ways:

  1. A special-focus MTh on HIV and AIDS has been offered that involves collaboration between a range of Programmes in the School - and collaboration with three other African Universities with Scholarship funding from the Church of Sweden;
  2. The Sinomlando Centre for oral History and Memory Work in&npsp; Africa is a major role palyer in promoting memory work as a way of building resilience in families affected by HIV and AIDS and gathering material for the history of the epidemic in KwaZulu-Natal;
  3. The Ujamaa Centre for Community Development and Research collaborates with Siyaphila groups in offering faith resources in support of people living with HIV and AIDS;
  4. HIV and AIDS is dealt with in a number of undergraduate modules including Biblical Studies and Systematic Theology;
  5. A number of individuals are involved in a range of research programmes that deal with HIV and AIDS;
  6. A great deal of research has emerged out of SRPC on the theme of HIV and AIDS;
  7. More than twenty Masters and PhD students have written or are writing their theses on the theme of HIV and AIDS;
  8. The Journal of Theology for Southern Africa and the Journal of Constructive Theology, both housed in the School and edited by members of staff, have already produced a number of issues on Theology and HIV and AIDS.

A new initiative needed CHART , as a new initiative in the SRPC, was formed as academics and activists sensed that a consolidated and collaborative approach to HIV and AIDS was needed in the School. While there are range of exciting initiatives in response to the epidemic as staff have taken seriously the challenges outlined above, there was a lack of intentional collaboration and coordination within the School. This is intentional collaboration was seen as important because:

  • There was no obvious mechanism to interface with other research initiatives in partnership with UKZN such as HIVAN, HEARD, CAPRISA, NRF amongst others.
  • The interface with other agencies outside of UKZN is currently channelled through individuals rather than a team from SRPC.
  • Future research and the sharing of ideas and insights will benefit from collaboration within CHART.

SRPC is uniquely situated to provide inter-religious engagement with HIV AND AIDS, and CHART provides a mechanism for this. Financial support for student research at PhD level is lacking, and the hope is that CHART will support a cadre of CHART Fellows, three PhD students a year who receive support and become part of the research process of the collaborative.