Harsha Thirumurthy

Dr. Thirumurthy

Active Projects  |  Countries  |  Publications  |  Contact  |  CV


GGG_thirumurthy_harshaHarsha Thirumurthy PhD

Assistant Professor, Health Policy and Management

Faculty Fellow, Carolina Population Center


Dr. Thirumurthy’s research uses insights from economics and psychology to develop interventions that can improve various health behaviors. His research also examines the economic impacts of large-scale health initiatives in resource-limited settings. Read More

Dr. Thirumurthy is a development and health economist whose research is focused on two primary areas: (1) estimating the effect of adult and child health interventions on socio-economic outcomes in developing countries; and (2) identifying and evaluating interventions and policies to achieve changes in health behavior. His research has included several of the early studies that estimate the effects of HIV treatment provision on individual and household socio-economic outcomes and decision-making. His research in Kenya has used longitudinal data and econometric methods to determine the causal effect of adult health improvements due to HIV treatment on employment outcomes, children’s education, and nutritional status. More recently, Dr. Thirumurthy has led several studies that use insights from psychology and behavioral economics to influence various HIV-related health behaviors including adherence to medications, retention in HIV care programs, and uptake of biomedical HIV prevention interventions such as male circumcision. Dr. Thirumurthy conducted one of the first randomized controlled trials of mobile phone-based text messages and conditional cash transfers for improving adherence to HIV treatment in sub-Saharan Africa. With support from NICHD, he is exploring new ways that findings from behavioral economics can be used to achieve behavior change and improve the real-world effectiveness of HIV treatment and prevention interventions. Currently, Dr. Thirumurthy is leading several randomized controlled trials of economic and behavioral interventions to (a) increase the uptake of HIV prevention interventions such as male circumcision and HIV testing; and (b) improve adherence to HIV treatment.

Active Projects

  • Compensation for transport costs and lost wages associated with VMMC uptake: an intervention to increase VMMC demand among older men in Nyanza Province
  • Effects of Cash Transfer and Community Mobilization in Young South African Women
  • The use of peer referral incentives to increase demand for voluntary medical male circumcision in Zambia
  • Optimizing the use of economic incentives to increase male circumcision demand: a randomized trial to compare fixed vs. lottery-based incentives in Kenya
  • Improving drug adherence among adolescents in Uganda using SMS reminders
  • Sustainable East Africa Research on Community Health (SEARCH): community cluster randomized trial in Uganda and Kenya of widespread early community wide antiretroviral therapy


  • India
  • Kenya
  • South Africa
  • Uganda
  • Zambia



Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Campus Box 7411
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7411