Abigail Harrison, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Behavioral & Social Sciences (Research)
Department of Behavioral & Social Sciences and the Population Studies & Training Center
Work: +1 401-863-6183
Abigail Harrison, PhD, MPH is a social scientist studying gender, HIV/AIDS and reproductive health globally. Her research focuses on adolescents, schools, and the transition to adulthood in the context of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Her current research examines two areas: 1) structural and health disparities, and economic inequalities, in relation to sustained high rates of HIV infection among young women in southern Africa; and 2) patterns and dynamics of young women's contraceptive use.
BiographyAbigail Harrison is Assistant Professor (Research) in the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences in the School of Public Health. Trained as a social epidemiologist, Dr. Harrison has additional expertise in medical anthropology and social demography, and has conducted long-term ethnographic research in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa on the social dynamics of adolescent risk and protective behaviors related to reproductive health. She received her PhD from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, following a joint master's program (MA/MPH) at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Harrison completed post-doctoral training in HIV/AIDS research in the Department of Medicine at Brown's Warren Alpert Medical School, and at the Population Studies and Training Center, where she remains an active faculty associate. Harrison is affiliated with the International Health Institute, and serves as co-director of the Brown International Advanced Research Institute's (BIARI) Global Health and HIV/AIDS institute.
Research DescriptionSince 1996, I have conducted research in South Africa, focusing on adolescents, schools, and the transition to adulthood in the context of HIV/AIDS. From 2000-2006, I led a long-term ethnographic research study in KwaZulu-Natal, the province with the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS. That research focused on the social dynamics of adolescent risk and protective behaviors related to reproductive health, specifically HIV/AIDS and unintended pregnancy. More recently, I have begun to examine the role of structural and health disparities, and economic inequalities, as factors underlying sustained high rates of HIV infection among young women in southern Africa.
In partnership with colleagues at MatCH, a South African research institute affiliated with the University of the Witwatersrand, I am examining the patterns and dynamics of contraceptive use among South African women. In collaboration with MatCH and Harvard University/MGH, I collaborate on related research examining peri-conception risk and protective behaviors among women and their partners, with the aim of developing a gender-focused HIV prevention intervention for men and women.
I also have a strong interest in the development of rigorous evaluation methods for intervention research, including the use of qualitative research methods for program evaluation. I currently advise community-based youth HIV prevention projects in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.
I am co-investigator on the NICHD-funded grant, 'Partnership for the Next Generation of HIV/AIDS Social Science in South Africa', a five year institutional collaboration with the University of Cape Town School of Public Health aimed at developing capacity in social science research and teaching related to HIV/AIDS. The research component of that grant focuses on 'GAP': gender, anti-retroviral therapy, and prevention strategies, with the aim of mentoring and developing the capacity of young South African researchers.
AffiliationsPopulation Association of America
American Public Health Association