Professor Mitzy Gafos


of Social Science and Global Health

15-17 Tavistock Place
United Kingdom

I have been working in HIV programming and research since the late 1990's and joined LSHTM in June 2017. As a mixed methods social scientist I have predominantly worked in clinical and structural HIV prevention trials. Currently I am working on a range of projects, most notiably as co-PI of the Sustainable Development Goals Health and Wellbeing consortium (SDG-HaW) conducting mixed methods formative reserach to identify priority SDG 3 targets for 30 communities located near mining operations across nine high, medium and low income countries, and designing tailored health and wellbeing interventions to tackle the structural, behavioural and biomedical factors that influence the priority issues. I am the lead investigator for  LSHTM of the UPTAKE study which aims to use qualitative research and behavioural science research methods to determine the factors that will influence the uptake of long acting and multipurpose HIV prevention technologies among adolescent girls and young women and female sex workers in Kenya and Uganda. I am also working on a study designed to develop a global HIV prevention health economics research strategy, another to develop a PrEP programme for people who inject drugs in Myanmar, and the social science component of two adolescent HIV treatment trials.

In the past I was the principal investigator of the Microbicides Development Programme (MDP301) phase III clinical trial at the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, which was one of six clinical trial centres conducting the multi-centre trial. MDP301 evaluated a vaginal microbicide gel for HIV prevention among women in South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. 

At the Medical Research Council's Clinical Trials Unit at UCL I was co-investigator on the PROUD trial evaluating an oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention among gay and other men who have sex with men and trans women in England. I led the comprehensive social science component of the trial as well as a particularly expansive Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) component which included participant involvement in the trial.  At UCL, I also worked on the SELPHI HIV self-testing trial, the EHVA HIV theurapeutic vaccine trial, and on studies looking at adolescent health in the UK and sub-Saharan Africa.  

I joined LSHTM as Co-Research Director of STRIVE, an international research consortium dedicated to studying the structural drivers of HIV, including gender inequalities and violence, harmful social norms, stigma and discrimination, lack of livelihood options and alcohol availability and harmful drinking norms.




Faculty of Public Health and Policy
Department of Global Health and Development


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


I am module co-organiser of the Sexual Health intensive face-to-face module with Pippa Grenfell and also teach on the Principles of Social Research. I also serve on the Reproductive and Sexual Health Research MSc exam board.


As a mixed methods social scientist, I am particularly interested in the ways in which people incorporate new HIV prevention technologies into their existing HIV prevention strategieis, and their lives more generally, within the complexities of their sociocultural environment and in the face of structural drivers of HIV.

In the MDP 301 trial, I explored the ways women positioned vaginal microbicides in the sociocultural contexts of vaginal practices, social norms and gender dynamics. I was particularly interested in how women reframed vaginal microbicides as serving purposes beyong HIV prevention, including sexual pleasure and vaginal hygiene.

In the PROUD trial, I explored the ways gay and other men who have sex with men, and a few trans women, positioned oral PrEP in the sociocultural contexts of sexual risk taking, digital sexual networking, and chemsex. I also explored issues related to PrEP adherence, the impact of PrEP use on sexual risk taking, sexual fulfilment, internalised stigmatisation, intimate partner violence and depression.

Most of my current research focuses on developing, implementing and evaluating complex combination health and wellbeing interventions tailored to specific populations needs.

I am also very passionate about involving stakeholders in the life cycle of the research process and have worked extensively on Good Participatory Practice (GPP) and Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) processes and evaluations.

Research Area
Clinical trials
Complex interventions
Public health
Sexual health
Social and structural determinants of health
Adolescent health
Behaviour change
Global Health
Mixed methods
Qualitative methods
Randomised controlled trials
Substance use
Social Sciences
Disease and Health Conditions
Mental health
Non-communicable diseases
Sexually transmitted infection
United Kingdom
Myanmar (Burma)
South Africa
East Asia & Pacific (all income levels)
European Union
Latin America & Caribbean (all income levels)
South Asia
Sub-Saharan Africa (all income levels)

Selected Publications

Alcohol use and associated risk factors among female sex workers in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review and meta-analysis
Beksinska A; Karlsen O; Gafos M; Beattie T
Exploring the Mental Health Experiences and Perceived Social and Sexual Risks among Female Sex Workers in Nairobi, Kenya
Panneh M; Gafos M; Nyariki E; Liku J; Shah P; Wanjiru R; Manjiru M; Beksinska A; Pollock J; Jama Z
Health Economics Research on Non-surgical Biomedical HIV Prevention: Identifying Gaps and Proposing a Way Forward.
Torres-Rueda S; Terris-Prestholt F; Gafos M; Indravudh PP; Giddings R; Bozzani F; Quaife M; Ghazaryan L; Mann C; Osborne C
Longitudinal experiences and risk factors for common mental health problems and suicidal behaviours among female sex workers in Nairobi, Kenya.
Beksinska A; Shah P; Kungu M; Kabuti R; Babu H; Jama Z; Panneh M; Nyariki E; Nyabuto C; Okumu M
Global Mental Health
Costs and Cost-Effectiveness of Biomedical, Non-Surgical HIV Prevention Interventions: A Systematic Literature Review.
Bozzani FM; Terris-Prestholt F; Quaife M; Gafos M; Indravudh PP; Giddings R; Medley GF; Malhotra S; Torres-Rueda S
Adolescent Girls and Their Family Members' Attitudes Around Gendered Power Inequity and Associations with Future Aspirations in Karnataka, India.
Closson K; Prakash R; Javalkar P; Beattie T; Thalinja R; Collumbien M; Ramanaik S; Isac S; Watts C; Moses S
Violence Against Women
PrEP for Women. Invited speaker at IUSTI Europe conference
Gafos M
Mental health challenges and perceived risks among female sex Workers in Nairobi, Kenya.
Panneh M; Gafos M; Nyariki E; Liku J; Shah P; Wanjiru R; Wanjiru M; Beksinska A; Pollock J; Maisha Fiti Study Champions
BMC public health
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