Maryam Shahmanesh

Maryam Shahmanesh

Dr Maryam Shahmanesh’s 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.

Maryam is a Faculty Member at the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) and an Associate Professor in clinical epidemiology at the UCL Institute for Global Health.  After graduating in Medicine (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 (Cambridge University), a Masters in Epidemiology (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), and a PhD in Clinical Epidemiology (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.

In addition to her research, Maryam is actively involved in post graduate teaching, including developing and leading three Masters programmes at UCL.  Maryam currently supervises PhD students and is a mentor to a large team of South African early career researchers.  She is also a hon consultant and works as a clinician at the Mortimer Market Centre – one of the largest sexual health and HIV clinics in the UK.

Work at AHRI

Since 2016 Maryam has developed and leads a large programme of work to develop and evaluate complex sexual health and HIV prevention interventions for adolescents and young adults in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The programme is funded by grants from the US National Institutes of Health, UK Medical Research Council, UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Councils, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 3ie, UNITAID, and Wellcome Trust. It includes evaluating the real world scale-up of complex interventions (DREAMS and MTV-Shuga); participatory development of an area-based HIV status neutral peer support intervention for young people (Thetha Nami), as well as other innovations such as using digital technology, and Sexually Transmitted Infection testing to improve engagement of young people in HIV care and prevention. She leads a cluster randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of HIV self-testing delivered by peers either directly or through incentivised peer-networks  in increasing the uptake of antiretroviral therapy and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) amongst young women (18-24 years) compared to referral to HIV testing services by peer-navigators in rural KZN.

She will also lead a 4×4 factorial randomized controlled trial to explore the hypothesis that HIV prevention interventions (including HIV testing, ART, PrEP and referral to VMMC) delivered by Thetha Nami area-based peer-navigators engaged in psychosocial support and/or delivered through sexual and reproductive health promotion (including testing for sexual and reproductive tract infections, and counselling around fertility, family planning and U=U) developed with and for young people will reduce infectious HIV amongst men and women aged 16-29  living in a high HIV incidence area of rural South Africa. She is also part of Amethist, a Wellcome Trust collaborative award which explores the role of differentiated prevention and care to support virtual elimination of infectious HIV among sex workers in southern Africa.

Get in touch with Maryam via maryam.shahmanesh@ahri.org

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.