Guy Harling

Dr Guy Harling is a member of faculty at AHRI and an associate professor at University College London. Guy trained as an epidemiologist, focusing on social determinants of infectious diseases. He has conducted research in South Africa since 2004, and additionally worked in Burkina Faso, Tanzania and Zambia. Much of this work has focused on sexual behaviour and the risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV and sexually transmitted infections, with occasional projects relating to tuberculosis and Covid-19.

In recent years Guy has focused increasingly on how social networks structure people’s behaviours and thus health: either to support healthy outcomes or to place people at increased risk of infection and ill-health. This work has included studies with both youth and older adults, with the aim of developing interventions that either work through or adjust social connections to protect against poor health outcomes. Guy holds honorary appointments at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Wits University in South Africa, and at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the USA.

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Guy Harling

Harling group

Guy’s research at AHRI focuses on understanding how people make health decisions within their social context.

The core of this work is the Sixhumene project (“we are connected”), which is evaluating how young people’s social networks change over three years, and how these changes are driven by or are drivers of sexual health behaviours and outcomes.

In addition, Guy is leading work through AHRI’s population intervention platform to understand how Covid-19 has affected communities, including changes in social contact patterns, healthcare access, and mental health. Since 2021 the focus of this work has been on understanding and acting on barriers to Covid-19 vaccine uptake. This Covid-related work is conducted within the national SAPRIN infrastructure.



Meet the Team

Selected Recent Publications

Harling G, Gumede D, Shahmanesh M, Pillay D, Bärnighausen TW, Tanser F. Sources of social support and sexual behaviour advice for young adults in rural South Africa. BMJ Global Health. (2018). 3: e000955.

Harling G, Tsai AC . Using social networks to understand and overcome implementation barriers in the global HIV response. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. (2019). 82(S3): S244-S252.

Harling G, Gómez-Olivé FX, Tlouyamma J, Mutevedzi T, Kabudula CW, Mahlako R, Singh U, Ohene-Kwofie D, Buckland R, Ndagurwa P, Gareta D, Gunda R, Mngomezulu T, Nxumalo S, Wong EB, Kahn K, Siedner MJ, Maimela E, Tollman S, Collinson M, Herbst K. Protective behaviours and secondary harms from non-pharmaceutical interventions during the Covid-19 epidemic in South Africa: a multisite prospective longitudinal study.  JMIR Public Health and Surveillance (2021). 7(5): e26073.

McCreesh N, Dlamini V, Edwards A, Olivier S, Dayi N, Dikgale K, Nxumalo S, Dreyer J, Baisley K, Siedner MJ, White RG, Herbst K, Grant AD, Harling G. Impact of the Covid-19 epidemic and related social distancing regulations on social contact and SARS-CoV-2 transmission potential in rural South Africa: analysis of repeated cross-sectional surveys. BMC Infectious Diseases (2021). 21: 928.

Mthiyane N, Harling G, Chimbindi N, Baisley K, Seeley J, Dreyer J, Zuma T, Birdthistle I, Floyd S, McGrath N, Tanser F, Shahmanesh M, Sherr L. Common mental disorders and HIV status among adolescent girls and young women in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa . BMC Public Health 2021; 21: 478.