Food Insecurity and HIV Infection
Food insecurity is when people do not have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious foods for an active and healthy life. It is increasingly recognized that food insecurity both increases HIV-related risk behaviors and is associated with worse health outcomes among people living with HIV infection. Our team is researching the various ways that food insecurity worsens the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa in order to identify strategies to mitigate food insecurity among people at risk of HIV infection or living with HIV infection.
Innovative Strategies for Behavior Change
What’s the best way to encourage people to adopt healthy behaviors? From HIV and sexually transmitted disease testing to using contraception, our team draws on innovative methods from behavioral economics and psychology to increase people’s utilization of sexual and reproductive health services and to make more informed choices about their health behavior. We’re particularly interested in interventions that incorporate cash and in-kind incentives, social networks, social norms, gamification, and behavioral priming.
Hormonal Contraception and HIV Infection
More than 14 million women in Sub-Saharan Africa use hormonal contraception, which prevents unintended pregnancies, reduces maternal and infant morbidity and mortality, and has other significant social and economic benefits. Despite these benefits, some studies have suggested that certain types of hormonal contraception might increase a woman’s risk of HIV acquisition, an issue of great public health significance given women and girls’ vulnerability to HIV infection. However, the effect of hormonal contraception on HIV risk remains unresolved despite nearly two decades of scientific inquiry. Our research group attempts to provide context to this diverse body of research through data analysis, meta-analysis, and assessment of the misclassification.
Prevention of Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission
Although the number of infants born each year with HIV infection has declined dramatically over the past three decades, in 2015, between 110,000 and 190,000 children were newly infected with HIV. Our research team is leading the impact evaluation of Zimbabwe’s Accelerated National PMTCT Program, which is being implemented by the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and Child Care. The evaluation (PIs: Nancy Padian and Frances Cowan) consists of serial cross-sectional community surveys of mother/caregiver-infant pairs residing in five of Zimbabwe’s ten provinces. We collect data about mother-to-child transmission, unmet need for contraception, and gaps in the “cascade” of PMTCT services in order to evaluate the effect and cost-effectiveness of the accelerated program.