HIV researcher Gita Ramjee dies of COVID-19 related illness

World renowned HIV researcher Professor Gita Ramjee has passed away from a COVID-19 related illness.

The 64 year old scientist was well known for her work in the field of HIV. Professor Ramjee was the chief scientific officer at the Aurum Institute, a leading authority in the field of HIV and Tuberculosis.

Throughout her career she had work on trials for HIV preventative medication, and has particularly focused on how the disease effected women.

“The world has lost a bold and compassionate leader in the response to HIV,” said Professor Gavin Churchyard, Group CEO of the Aurum Institute.

“Gita Ramjee firmly believed in health as a fundamental human right. Her ground-breaking research in HIV prevention contributed to the global response to HIV and AIDS. Our thoughts during this difficult time are with her family, colleagues and the many people her life and work touched,” he added.

Prior to taking up her appointment as Chief Scientific Officer: HIV Prevention at The Aurum Institute, Professor Ramjee was Chief Specialist Scientist and Director of the HIV Prevention Research Unit at the South African Medical Research Council.

She held Honorary Professorships at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of Washington in Seattle and University of Cape Town.

Professor Ramjee was a critical player in the field of HIV prevention clinical trials and was acknowledged internationally for her expertise in the field of microbicide research, including a Lifetime Achievement Award for HIV Prevention.

In 2018, she was honoured with the “Outstanding Female Scientist” Award by the European Development Clinical Trials Partnerships (EDCTP) for her life’s work that has focused on finding new HIV prevention methods.

Professor Ramjee has published more than 200 research articles. She was a reviewer and editor of several scientific journals and a member of several local and international committees and advisory groups including the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC).

“The Aurum Institute and the global HIV research community will mourn Gita Ramjee’s passing and celebrate the huge contribution to the response to HIV she made in her life,” said Churchyard.

Praise for Professor Ramjee’s work also came from the UN AIDS, who described her death as a great loss.

“I am deeply saddened at the news of the passing of Gita Ramjee,” said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS.

“She was an eminent scientist who dedicated her life to HIV prevention for women and girls in Africa. Her death is a huge loss at a time when the world needs her most. My condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.”

The New York Times has published an obituary for Professor Ramjee that recounts her youth in Uganda, her teenage years in India, and how university study took her to England where she met her future husband who was from South Africa.

As a researcher into HIV she was at the forefront of battling the virus which has taken the lives of millions of people on the Africa continent. Over the course of her career Professor Ramjee authored more than 170 scientific articles.

OIP Staff

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