Dr Shelley Lees


Associate Professor
in Anthropology of Gender, Violence and HIV

Room 313

15-17 Tavistock Place
United Kingdom


The main focus of my research is exploring gender, violence, and HIV. Through anthropological research conducted with participants in HIV and GBV trials in Tanzania, which aim to empower women, I am exploring what impact such trials have on Tanzanian women's power. With 20 years of working and living in Tanzania I am developing an in-depth understanding of changes in Tanzanian women's power, and how this is impacted on by scientific endeavours, such as the trials, as well as social and economic development. Further to this I am interested in understanding women's power in relation to concepts of uncertainty and hope.

I am also exploring the role on anthropology in clinical and community-based trials, especially to reveal broader ethical considerations of trials. For this purpose I am leading anthropological research into an Ebola Virus Disease trial in Sierra Leone.


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


I have taught on a number of modules including Primary Health Care, Principles of Social Research, and Health Policy, Process and Power. I am currently co organiser for the Medical Anthropology and Public Health module.


I am currently working on a number of trials including the Maisha trial in North West Tanzania which is exploring whether the provision of participatory gender training alone or in combination with microfinance reduces gender-based violence amongst women (…). My key role is to explore women's everyday lives and experiences of intimate partner violence. I am also leading on the social science research for the EBOVAC1 trial in which we are exploring potential concerns and rumours that could impact on participation in the trial and the ethical conduct of the trial. Other research involves the exploration of sexual violence against children in Zanzibar. 

Research Area
Clinical trials
Maternal health
Sexual health
Social and structural determinants of health
Qualitative methods
Disease and Health Conditions
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Zoonotic disease
Sierra Leone
Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)

Selected Publications

Understanding motives for intravaginal practices amongst Tanzanian and Ugandan women at high risk of HIV infection: the embodiment of social and cultural norms and well-being
Lees, S.; Zalwango, F.; Andrew, B.; Vandepitte, J.; Seeley, J.; Hayes, R.J.; Francis, S.C.
Social Science and Medicine
Conceptualizations of Uncertainty and Risk and Implications for Biomedical HIV Prevention Technologies in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Systematic Review.
Warren, E. ; Paterson, P. ; Lees, S. ; Eakle, R. ; Stadler, J. ; Larson, H. ;
AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses
Understanding the linkages between informal and formal care for people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.
Lees, S. ; Kielmann, K. ; Cataldo, F. ; Gitau-Mburu, D. ;
Glob Public Health
Re-framing microbicide acceptability: findings from the MDP301 trial.
Montgomery, C.M.; Gafos, M.; Lees, S.; Morar, N.S.; Mweemba, O.; Ssali, A.; Stadler, J.; Pool, R.; MDP Team, .;
Cult Health Sex
How informed is consent in vulnerable populations? Experience using a continuous consent process during the MDP301 vaginal microbicide trial in Mwanza, Tanzania
Vallely, A.; Lees, S.; Shagi, C.; Kasindi, S.; Soteli, S.; Kavit, N.; Vallely, L.; McCormack, S.; Pool, R.; Hayes, R.J.; Microbicides Development Programme (MDP), .;
BMC Medical Ethics
Sexual risk behaviour for women working in recreational venues in Mwanza, Tanzania: considerations for the acceptability and use of vaginal microbicide gels
Lees, S.; Desmond, N.; Allen, C.; Bugeke, G.; Vallely, A.; Ross, D.; Microbicides Dev, P.
Culture Health & Sexuality
The role of partnership dynamics in determining the acceptability of condoms and microbicides.
Montgomery, C.M.; Lees, S.; Stadler, J.; Morar, N.S.; Ssali, A.; Mwanza, B.; Mntambo, M.; Phillip, J.; Watts, C.; Pool, R.;
See all Dr Shelley Lees's Publications