Dr Isolde Birdthistle


Associate Professor
of Adolescent Health and Epidemiology

Keppel Street
United Kingdom

020 7927 2519

I use research as a tool to document the needs and solutions for adolescent health. This includes observational research to expose the vulnerability of adolescent girls and young women to early HIV/STI and sexual health risk. I also use epidemiological data to generate evidence for 'what works', particularly through the evaluation of complex interventions for adolescents. I previously worked in adolescent health promotion programmes with WHO (the Global School Health Initiative), UNICEF (education and HIV prevention), Harvard School of Public Health, and the MIT Media Lab.


Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health
Department of Population Health


Centre for Evaluation
Centre for Maternal Adolescent Reproductive & Child Health (MARCH)


I am a Module Organiser for LSHTM's Adolescent Health Short Course, and teach on Extended Epidemiology and Design and Analysis of Epidemiological Studies (DANES). I deliver lectures related to Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health on various modules, including Foundations in Reproductive Health, Family Planning Programmes, and AIDS. I am a tutor on the MSc Reproductive & Sexual Health Research (RSHR) course and regularly supervise summer project dissertations with MSc Epidemiology and MSc RSHR students.


I currently lead a portfolio of studies to evaluate the impact of HIV prevention programmes for adolescents and young people. This includes an impact evaluation of PEPFAR's 'DREAMS' investments in Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe (funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and the 'MTV Shuga' television series and accompanying edutainment for young people in South Africa and Cote d'Ivoire, funded by Unitaid and MTV Staying Alive Foundation ( Collectively, these studies are generating evidence to help maximise HIV prevention technologies by increasing demand, supply and uptake, e.g., through a core package of layered interventions addressing HIV as well as broader health, social and educational needs of 10-24 yr-old girls (DREAMS); and by boosting demand for HIV self-testing and PrEP among young people (MTV Shuga).

Research Area
Complex interventions
Health inequalities
Health promotion
Sexual health
Social and structural determinants of health
Adolescent health
Behaviour change
Capacity strengthening
Evidence use
Impact evaluation
Mixed methods
Implementation research
Reproductive health
Operational research
Social Sciences
Disease and Health Conditions
Sexually transmitted infection
Cote d'Ivoire
South Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa (all income levels)

Selected Publications

Early impact of the DREAMS partnership on young women's knowledge of their HIV status: causal analysis of population-based surveys in Kenya and South Africa.
Birdthistle I; Carter DJ; Mthiyane NT; Orindi BO; Muuo S; Chimbindi N; Ziraba A; Shahmanesh M; Baisley K; Floyd S
Journal of epidemiology and community health
The impact of the DREAMS partnership on HIV incidence among young women who sell sex in two Zimbabwean cities: results of a non-randomised study.
Chabata ST; Hensen B; Chiyaka T; Mushati P; Musemburi S; Dirawo J; Busza J; Floyd S; Birdthistle I; Hargreaves JR
BMJ global health
How Can We Support the Use of Oral PrEP Among Young Women who Sell Sex? A PrEP Cascade Analysis.
Hensen B; Machingura F; Busza J; Birdthistle I; Chabata ST; Chiyaka T; Floyd S; Jamali G; Mushati P; Hargreaves J
Journal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes (1999)
Common mental disorders and HIV status in the context of DREAMS among adolescent girls and young women in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Mthiyane N; Harling G; Chimbindi N; Baisley K; Seeley J; Dreyer J; Zuma T; Birdthistle I; Floyd S; McGrath N
BMC public health
Reaching early adolescents with a complex intervention for HIV prevention: findings from a cohort study to evaluate DREAMS in two informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya.
Mulwa S; Osindo J; Wambiya EO; Gourlay A; Maina BW; Orindi BO; Floyd S; Ziraba A; Birdthistle I
BMC public health
See more Publications