The HIV/AIDS Unit was informally established in 2002 to manage HEAIDS funding obtained in Phase One (2000/2005) under an appointed HIV and AIDS Coordinator. Phase one successfully implemented HIV strategies and a free voluntary Counselling and Testing Programme for staff and students. The merger of UPE and PE Technikon brought about the establishment of the HIV/AIDS Unit as a legal entity within the Nelson Mandela University. The mandate sanctioned by management for the role of the HIV/AIDS unit was focused on a 70% research driven programmes and 30% service provision, the latter being as a result of the high level of expectation from the community at large. In 2006 the Unit was mandated to incorporate the Health and Development Research Institute previously housed within the Faculty of Health Sciences. The unit has successfully secured 5 posts, one being a contract post for 3 years and 4 being permanent posts.

The HIV/AIDS unit is an established legal entity reporting to the deputy Vice Chancellor Research, Technology and Planning. The rational for the strategic placement of the unit in this hierarchal structure is inherent in the mandate assigned to the unit, primarily as a central coordinating unit for HIV/AIDS strategies planned and implemented in the academic and service arena of the Nelson Mandela University.

The adequate and appropriate response in turn rests on the direct involvement of the unit in terms of the internal strategic planning at faculty and at central management level as well as the operational and academic and research arena of the Nelson Mandela University. This implies that the unit be involved with various academic structures and services for example SANTED project, Human Resources, campus health services and Research technology and Innovation. Collaboration, however should not be limited to the structures identified in the text and will require inclusion as the need arises.

The sustainability of the unit is directly dependent on the central resources afforded it as well as the additional support provided to successfully implement its mandate.