series event

Perspectives on Statistics in Medicine 32nd Annual Lecture: Professor Salim S. Abdool Karim

This year's joint lecture by LSHTM and the Royal Statistical Society is titled 'HIV and COVID-19, a tale of two pandemics'.

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The two most challenging pandemics of the last 40 years provide valuable epidemiological lessons as the world prepares for future pandemics. Unravelling the relationship between cause and effect or intervention and effect in the two pandemics brough different challenges. This presentation will focus on the causes and interventions for the high HIV risk in young women and the effects of variants in COVID-19. 

In the HIV pandemic, about 70% of all new infections occur in Africa, where the highest incidence rates are in young girls. Identifying the behavioural and biological factors driving the risk of HIV in young women has taken decades. In parallel, research and development of cause-agnostic interventions to slow down infections in young women continued apace leading to the discovery that antiretrovirals prevent sexual HIV transmission. However, the adherence challenges have complicated the assessment of their effectiveness in prevention and spurred development of long-acting formulations.

Research experience and capacity developed for the HIV response in Africa, was key to responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the understanding of how each new variant drove each new wave. Interventions that were variant-agnostic became increasingly important.

Key lessons from both pandemics include the importance of taking heed of warning signs, the timeous scientific evidence to facilitate informed decision-making and the central importance of global solidarity and humanity’s mutual interdependence.


Salim S Abdool Karim

Salim S. Abdool Karim, FRS, Director at CAPRISA, Professor of Global Health at Columbia University, and Special Advisor to the Director-General of the WHO

Salim S. Abdool Karim is a clinical infectious diseases epidemiologist widely acknowledged for his scientific contributions and leadership in AIDS and Covid-19.

He is the Director of CAPRISA (Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa) and Professor of Global Health in Epidemiology at Columbia University. He is an Adjunct Professor at Cornell and Harvard Universities, Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Special Advisor on pandemics to the WHO Director-General.

He is Vice-President of the International Science Council. He is a member of the WHO Science Council. He serves on the Boards of the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet HIV and Lancet Global Health. He is a Member of the US National Academy of Medicine and Fellow of the Royal Society.

Please note, the lecture is followed by a drinks reception in the South Courtyard at 18.30.

The Annual Perspectives on Statistics in Medicine Lecture is formerly known as the Bradford Hill Memorial Lecture.


Free and open to all, online and in person. No registration required.


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