Cape Town, South Africa


In South Africa, the GEAS study site is Khayelitsha in the Cape Peninsula. Khayelitsha covers approximately 43 square kilometers (16.8 square miles) and is made up of 22 sub-sections or areas. The area has a total population of close to 400,000 residents (2011 census data). Of the total population over 40% of the residents are under the age of 19 years. Around 60% of residents still live in shacks (informal dwellings) and 29% do not have access to a flush toilet connected to a sewerage system. More than 53% of the working age population is unemployed.

Research Team

Our collaborating partner in Cape Town is the University of the Western Cape HIV&AIDS Programme.


James Lees, Primary Investigator

James Lees is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Education and HIV & AIDS Programme and Associate, Centre for Research in to HIV and AIDS, University of the Western Cape. For thirty years, Dr. Lees has been a leader in the front-line response to the HIV epidemic. Since his early days coordinating a programme for homeless adolescents with HIV in San Francisco (in a time before ARV mediations), Dr. Lees understood the relationship between sexual violence and HIV. His later work developing programmes to prevent HIV infection among street children in India, an initiative intended to build the capacity of street-child serving agencies, was by necessity centered around sexual violence prevention and response given the levels of sexual violence that victimize India’s street children.  At the University of the Western Cape in South Africa since 2002, Dr. Lees’ work has focused on building the capacity of pre- and in-service teachers and communities to respond to the complex and multi-faceted challenges HIV brings to families, schools and the project of education, most critical among these challenges being sexual violence. While Dr. Lees holds a senior lecturer post, his passion, concern and drive have been around the collective discovery of innovative responses to HIV and sexual violence. And while his undergraduate and master’s degrees are in anthropology, he chose a D.Phil. in education after years of HIV prevention work because he recognized the value of education theory to HIV and sexual violence prevention and the paucity of its application. Contact Dr. Lees.


Cara-Jean Petersen, Field Coordinator

Cara-Jean Petersen was born and raised in Cape Town. In 2008 she began her studies at The University of the Western Cape, majoring in psychology and philosophy. In 2009, Cara-Jean was invited to become a member of the prestigious Golden Key International Academic Society and was awarded the Dean’s Merit List Award 3 years in a row for her academic achievements. During her time as an academic she also focused on self-development through volunteering as a Youth Leader at her local church for 6 years as well as excelling during her 6 month internship at The Trauma Centre for Survivors of Violence and Torture in Woodstock, Cape Town during her honours year. In 2012 she completed her B.Psych honours degree, graduating Summa Cum Laude. In 2013, Cara-Jean was employed by the HIV & AIDS Programme as one of the project co-ordinators of the Youth Ambassadors and I Care Programmes implemented within 25 high schools across the Western Cape. In 2014 she was promoted to School Liaison Officer and is now currently heading up the School Component within the HIV & AIDS Programme, focusing on schools within the Mitchell’s Plain, Khayelitsha, Boland and Southern Suburbs areas. Cara-Jean has a passion for the youth and hopes to one day further her studies, specialising in Child and Family Psychology.