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Sue Napierala

Research Epidemiologist


PhD, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
MPH, International Health, Tulane University
BS, Community Nutrition, University of California, Davis

Sue Napierala is an expert in reproductive health research. A member of the Women’s Global Health Imperative (WGHI), she has more than 15 years of experience conducting reproductive health research to engage hard-to-reach populations and address health disparities. Currently, Dr. Napierala is involved in research on innovative strategies to scale up HIV testing and engagement across the HIV prevention and care continuum. She is particularly interested in the feasibility, acceptability, and accuracy of HIV self-testing. Her past HIV work includes studying key and vulnerable populations in sub-Saharan Africa and globally, describing the HIV epidemic, synthesizing data on HIV prevention and care strategies, and making recommendations for research, programming and policy. She worked closely with the National Sex Worker Programme in Zimbabwe to integrate targeted HIV and other sexual and reproductive health services, as a feasible, acceptable and cost-effective strategy to improving the health and well-being of this key population. Other research interests include the epidemiological synergy of HIV and STI coinfection, HIV prevention among young people, and female-controlled methods of HIV prevention. Dr. Napierala has developed interventions and implemented community-based and clinical trials in the United States and internationally. 

Among Dr. Napierala’s current projects is the Jikinge study, a cluster randomized controlled trial in Kisumu, Kenya. The study explores whether the provision of multiple oral fluid-based HIV self-test kits to women at higher risk of HIV can be used to promote HIV testing among their sexual partners, facilitate safer sexual decision-making, and ultimately reduce their risk of acquiring HIV. She is also involved in HIV Prevention among Young Female Sex Workers: an Implementation Research Approach, a comprehensive health economics evaluation of a multicomponent HIV prevention project in Zimbabwe. The project targets FSW under age 25, to inform them of the most cost-effective and efficient package of services, designed to optimize engagement of YWSS in HIV services and reduce HIV transmission. She also works with Malkia Klabu, or “Queen Club,” a project that is developing and piloting mechanisms to increase demand for the mediating outcomes of HIV self-testing and contraception at community drug shops in Tanzania, with the goal of reducing HIV incidence and unintended pregnancies by creating a sustainable, easily accessible, community-based platform for delivering HIV prevention and SRH services to AGYW. 

Dr. Napierala joined RTI in 2011. She holds a certificate in Implementation Science from the University of California San Francisco and has taught courses on epidemiology, clinical trials, and other topics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She has a license in phlebotomy and speaks fluent French. She is a member of the University of London Board of Examiners; John Snow Society; American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association; International Union of Sexually Transmitted Infections; and the International AIDS Society.

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