Dr Isolde Birdthistle
of Adolescent Health and Epidemiology
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.
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; https://www.lshtm.ac.uk/research/centres-projects-groups/dreams#welcome) 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 (https://tinyurl.com/y9u7trc9). 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).