South Africa is in dire need of a public umbilical cord blood stem cell bank (UCB SCB). A severe shortage of genetically compatible samples for BM transplantation precludes the majority of South Africans from receiving the relevant medical care. UCB is a viable alternative to BM but is currently disposed of post-delivery. UCB could furthermore serve as a resource of genetically compatible haematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) that could be used in gene therapy approaches directed towards a cure for HIV-1. Knowing whether HIV-1 affects or infects primitive HPCs is vital to determine the course of action for transplantation of UCB-derived genetically resistant HPCs. Collecting and storing UCB in a public UCB bank could thus serve as a vital resource of genetically compatible samples for BM transplantation. It was thought that the high incidence of HIV-1 in South African patients and the persistent stigma surrounding HIV-1 would be problematic for collecting sustainable numbers of UCB units and subjecting units to compulsory screening for infectious diseases. This was however, not the case. In the South African context, we are faced with unique and rich challenges relating to cultural and religious differences that are further augmented by linguistic constraints and educational insufficiencies. Nevertheless, the majority of patients within the interviewed patient cohort were supportive of the idea of establishing a public UCB SCB in SA and were willing to undergo additional HIV-1 screening. The Ultrio-Plus® assay was verified in this study for screening UCB units for HIV-1 and could be used in routine analyses of UCB units prior to banking. Conflicting results in the literature exist with regard to HIV-1’s ability to infect or affect haematopoietic progenitor cells. Results from this study revealed that HIV-1 was not only able to affect HPCs’ ability to form colonies in vitro, but was also capable of infecting CD34+ HPCs in some individuals. These results substantiate the theory that some CD34+ HPCs serve as viral reservoirs which could account for residual viraemia in patients on antiretroviral therapy. Results suggest that allogeneic transplantation of HIV-1 infected individuals with UCB-derived, genetically modified HPCs, should be pursued.