, Volume 86, Issue 2, pp 541-552

First online:

Scientometrics of a pandemic: HIV/AIDS research in South Africa and the World

  • Anthipi PourisAffiliated withCapacity and Strategic Platforms Grants, National Research FoundationInstitute for Technological Innovation, University of Pretoria Email author 
  • , Anastassios PourisAffiliated withInstitute for Technological Innovation, University of Pretoria

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The HIV/AIDS pandemic is of international interest with the 2008 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine having being awarded for the discovery of the virus that causes AIDS. South Africa has a particular interest in the field of HIV/AIDS research as it is the country with the largest number of HIV infections in the world and the issue has created a number of political and scientific debates. This investigation identifies the state of HIV/AIDS related research in South Africa vis-a-vis the rest of the world using evaluative scientometrics in order to inform relevant policy. South Africa is identified as producing an increasing number of HIV/AIDS related publications, making it one of the most prolific fields in the country. The rest of the world appears to have stabilized its research efforts after the development of highly active antiretroviral therapies. The USA is identified as the main producer of HIV/AIDS research while Europe appears to under-emphasise the issue. Comparison of the world’s most prolific universities with those in South Africa identifies that the latter has a fragmented system. A number of policy issues are discussed.


Scientometrics HIV/AIDS South Africa Human immunodeficiency virus Science policy