Maryam Shahmanesh

Maryam Shahmanesh

Prof Maryam Shahmanesh is a NIHR global health research professor, a physician scientist, and the director of implementation science at AHRI. Her research interests lie in the interdisciplinary space between social science, clinical medicine, and epidemiology. She enjoys using innovative and participatory methods to develop and rapidly evaluate complex interventions that improve the health of adolescents, youth, and marginalised populations.

After graduating in medicine from Cambridge University, she completed her specialist training in sexual health and HIV medicine (London).  Her academic training, which has complemented her clinical training, includes a degree in social and political science from Cambridge, a masters in epidemiology from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and a PhD in clinical epidemiology from University College London.  She has worked for Medicines sans Frontieres in north Burma and has held a Wellcome Trust clinical training fellowship, a Walport (NIHR) clinical lectureship, and a NIH early investigator award.

A large focus of Maryam’s work is building multidisciplinary research capacity through strong mentorship and support. Her 2022 NIHR global health research professorship enabled her to establish the AHRI implementation science and complex intervention centre – to support and mentor the growing number of AHRI-based scientists engaged in a range of disciplines that relate to implementation science. She also developed and co-leads the UCL masters in applied infectious disease epidemiology.

Research at AHRI

Since 2016 Maryam has established a large, interdisciplinary programme to develop and evaluate innovative and complex biosocial interventions to reduce HIV and improve sexual health among adolescents and young adults in KwaZulu-Natal. The programme is funded by grants from the US National Institutes of Health, UK Medical Research Council, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 3ie, UNITAID, Wellcome Trust, and the UK National Institute for Health and Social Research.

Her research has included participatory development of peer-led youth mobilisation (Thetha Nami) and other innovations such as using digital technology and sexually transmitted infection testing to improve engagement of young people in HIV care and prevention. She has led several implementation trials. This includes the first cluster randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of HIV self-testing to creating demand for HIV oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) among young women. She has recently completed a factorial randomised controlled trial (Isisekelo Sempilo) which explored the hypothesis that health promotion delivered by Thetha Nami area-based peer-navigators engaged in psychosocial support and/or integrated with sexual and reproductive health (SRH) – including testing for sexual and reproductive tract infections – will increase demand for differentiated HIV prevention. She is currently leading a large step-wedge cluster randomised controlled implementation trial of peer-led social mobilisation into community-based integrated HIV and SRH services (Thetha Nami ngithethe nawe). She will soon start ‘LAPIS’, a large cluster randomised controlled implementation trial of adding long-acting PrEP to the community-based HIV and SRH services. Both trials will look at the effectiveness on uptake and retention of 15–30-year-olds in differentiated HIV prevention, and reducing the prevalence of infectious HIV in adolescents and young adults. Maryam is also part of Amethist, a Wellcome Trust-funded collaborative award which explores the role of differentiated prevention and care to support virtual elimination of HIV among sex workers in southern Africa.

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Click here for a full list of publications.

Selected Recent Publications

Baisley, K., Chimbindi, N., Mthiyane, N., Floyd, S., McGrath, N., Pillay, D., . . . Shahmanesh, M. (2018). High HIV incidence and low uptake of HIV prevention services: The context of risk for young male adults prior to DREAMS in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. PLoS One, 13(12), e0208689. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0208689.

Baisley, K., Seeley, J., Siedner, M., Koole, K., Matthews, P., Tanser, F., …, Shahmanesh, M. (2019). Findings from home‐based HIV testing and facilitated linkage after scale‐up of test and treat in rural South Africa: Young people still missing. HIV Medicine, hiv.12787.

Chimbindi, N., Mthiyane, N., Birdthistle, I., Floyd, S., McGrath, N., Pillay, D., . . . Shahmanesh, M. (2018). Persistently high incidence of HIV and poor service uptake in adolescent girls and young women in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa prior to DREAMS. PLoS One, 13(10), e0203193. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0203193.

Francis, S. C., Mthiyane, T. N., Baisley, K., Mchunu, S. L., Ferguson, J. B., Smit, T., . . . Shahmanesh, M. (2018). Prevalence of sexually transmitted infections among young people in South Africa: A nested survey in a health and demographic surveillance site. PLoS medicine, 15(2), e1002512. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002512.

Hainsworth, E. G., Shahmanesh, M., & Stevenson, F. (2019). Insights into the social context of living with a dual diagnosis of HIV and cancer: a qualitative, thematic analysis of popular discourse in London newspapers. AIDS Care, 1-8. doi:10.1080/09540121.2019.1653444.

Mannell, J., Willan, S., Shahmanesh, M., Seeley, J., Sherr, L., & Gibbs, A. (2019). Why interventions to prevent intimate partner violence and HIV have failed young women in southern Africa. J Int AIDS Soc, 22(8), e25380. doi:10.1002/jia2.25380.