Dr. Audrey Pettifor

Audrey Pettifor, PhD

Department of Epidemiology
Faculty Fellow
Carolina Population Center
2101-D Mcgavran-Greenberg Hall
CB #7435
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7435


Audrey Pettifor is a Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Fellow in the Carolina Population Center and an Honorary Professor of Public Health at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. She is currently the Associate Chair and program lead for the infectious diseases epidemiology concentration at the UNC Department of Epidemiology. Her research focuses on structural determinants of HIV/STI infection in sub-Saharan Africa particularly in among adolescents and young women. Dr Pettifor has expertise on sexual behavior, HIV prevention, HIV testing, and structural interventions among adolescents and young adults in sub-Saharan Africa and has published extensively in the area of HIV and sexual behavior among youth in sub-Saharan Africa. She is co-chair of the NIH HIV Prevention Trials Network Adolescent Working Group and is on the editorial board of AIDS and Behavior and the Journal of Adolescent Health. She is a member of the NIH NIAID Advisory Council. She has expertise in COVID-19 testing and surveillance and prevention behaviors in the US and South Africa. She is currently protocol co-chair of a large NIH funded study to examine the effect of COVID-19 vaccines on asymptomatic infection and onward transmission in the US.

Audrey Pettifor in the Gillings News

Teaching Interests

Dr. Pettifor leads the proposal writing class which is a requirement for all Epidemiology PhD students. She also guest lectures in classes on social interventions, gender based violence and HIV prevention. 

Representative Courses

Epi 726: Epidemiology Research Methods

Research Activities

D43TW009774 (Pettifor) 06/01/14-3/31/24                                            

NIH Fogarty International                                                 

Wits-UNC Partnership: Expanding Capacity in HIV Implementation Science in South Africa 

This is a training grant in collaboration with the School of Public Health at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg to create a new Masters of Science with a concentration in epidemiology and implementation science.  

R01MH110186 (Pettifor) 04/22/16-01/31/22                                       


Multilevel mechanisms of HIV acquisition in young South African women

We focus on three under-examined thematic areas which cross-cut multiple levels of influence and that our research and the literature suggest are critical to shaping young women’s HIV risk—gender inequity, schooling and socio-economic status, and emotional well-being. Understanding how these determinants shape risk and protection is critical to developing effective interventions to reduce new HIV infection.

R01AG069128 (Rosenberg) 09/15/20-05/31/21 0.60 Calendar

Indiana Univ/NIH

Cumulative socioeconomic exposures, cash transfer interventions, and later-life cognitive decline and dementia risk in a low-income region of South Africa

Our long-term goal is to inform the design of population-level SES interventions to prevent and/or delay the onset of ADRD in low-income settings.

Role: Subcontract PI



Desmond Tutu HIV Fdn/Viiv Healthcare. 12/01/20-11/30/21                                

The BUDDY Project: Bidirectional, Upbeat communication and Differentiated, Distanced care for Young people

To assess the impact of multi-level factors on compliance with COVID-19 prevention guidelines, health service utilization, and engagement in HIV care (YPLWH only). Findings will be examined overall and stratified by HIV status and gender to better inform intervention development.

Role: Subcontract Principal Investigator

R01,Grant13277108 (Hightow-Weidman) 09/01/21-08/31/26                                          


A multidimensional digital approach to address vaccine hesitancy and increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake among African American young adults in the South

Despite being a key “super-spreader” population transmitting SARS-Co-V2, the causative agent of COVID-19 (COVID), acceptance of COVID vaccination is lowest among African American and young adult populations. A digital health intervention has the potential to increase the reach and uptake of COVID vaccination among African American young adults which is central to ending the pandemic. 

Role: Investigator

CoVPN 3006. (Pettifor) 3/1/21-11/30/21

A study to assess the impact of COVID-19 vaccination on SARS CoV-2 infection, viral shedding, and subsequent transmission

A national study to examine the effect of COVID-19 vaccination on infections with SARS-CoV-2, viral dynamics in the nose and transmission. 

Key Publications

HIV self-testing among young women in rural South Africa: A randomized controlled trial comparing clinic-based HIV testing to choice of either clinic testing or HIV self-testing with secondary distribution to peers and partners. . Pettifor A, Lippman SA, Kimaru L, Haber N, Mayakayaka Z, Selin A, Twine R, Gilmore H, Westreich D, Mdaka B, Wagner R, Gomez-Olive X, Tollman S, Kahn K.  (2020). EClinicalMedicine, 21(100327).

Effects of Early Social Bonds on Adolescent Trajectories of Sexual Risk Behaviors Among South African Girls. Gottfredson NC, Bhushan NL, Reyes HLM, Pettifor AE, Kahn K. (2021). AIDS Behav, 7.

Modeling Cash Plus Other Psychosocial and Structural Interventions to Prevent HIV Among Adolescent Girls and Young Women in South Africa (HPTN 068). Stoner MCD, Edwards JK, Westreich D, Kilburn K, Ahern J, Lippman SA, Gómez-Olivé FX, Kahn K, Pettifor A.  (2021). AIDS Behav, 21(10.1007).

Associations Between Key Psychosocial Stressors and Viral Suppression and Retention in Care Among Youth with HIV in Rural South Africa. . Filiatreau LM, Pettifor A, Edwards JK, Masilela N, Twine R, Xavier Gómez-Olivé F, Haberland N, Kabudula CW, Lippman SA, Kahn K.  (2021). AIDS Behav, 25(8), 8.

Time to strengthen HIV treatment and prevention for youth. . Pettifor A, Filiatreau L, Delany-Moretlwe S.  (2019). Lancet HIV, 6(11).

Community mobilization to modify harmful gender norms and reduce HIV risk: results from a community cluster randomized trial in South Africa. . Pettifor A, Lippman SA, Gottert A, Suchindran CM, Selin A, Peacock D, Maman S, Rebombo D, Twine R, Gómez-Olivé FX, Tollman S, Kahn K, MacPhail C.  (2018). J Int AIDS Soc, 21(7).

Adolescent lives matter: preventing HIV in Adolescents. Pettifor A, Stoner M, Pike C, Bekker LG.  (2018). Curr Opin HIV AIDS, 13(3), 265-273.

Effect of Schooling on Age-Disparate Relationships and Number of Sexual Partners among young women in rural South Africa enrolled in HPTN 068. Stoner MCD, Edwards JK, Miller WC, Aiello AE, Halpern CT, Julien A, Selin A, Hughes JP, Wang J, Gomez-Olive FX, Wagner RG, MacPhail C, Kahn K, Pettifor A**. (2017). J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr, 76(5), e107-e114.

The Effect of a Conditional Cash Transfer on HIV incidence among Young Women in Rural South Africa. Pettifor A, MacPhail C, Hughes J, Selin A, Wang J, Gomez-Olive XF, Eshleman S, Wagner R, Mabuza W, Khoza N, Suchindran C, Mokoena I, Twine R, Andrew P, Townley E, Laeyendecker O, Agyei Y, Tollman S, Kahn. HPTN 068 (2016). Lancet Glob Health.


  • PhD, Epidemiology, University of California, Berkeley, 2004
  • MPH, Maternal and Child Health, University of California, Berkeley, 2000
  • BA (with Distinction), Biomedical Ethics (minor in English Literature), University of Virginia, Charlottesville, 1996