Quarraisha Abdool Karim is an infectious diseases epidemiologist and she is one of the world’s leading AIDS researchers, with pioneering contributions in understanding the evolving HIV epidemic among young women while also advocating for the rights of people living with and affected by HIV.

She is the Associate Scientific Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa. As an infectious disease epidemiologist, her main research interests are in understanding the evolving HIV epidemic in South Africa, including the factors influencing the acquisition of HIV by adolescent girls, and sustainable strategies to introduce antiretroviral therapy in resource-constrained settings.

Her most important scientific contribution to HIV prevention is the CAPRISA 004 Tenofovirgel trial which demonstrated effectiveness of coitally-applied tenofovir gel in preventing HIV and HSV-2 acquisition in women. Her research on HIV epidemiology in young women has been widely utilized in developing responses to the HIV epidemic in southern Africa.

Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim is also the vice president for the African Academy of Science, Southern Africa; and the foreign associate member of the Institute of Medicine (IoM) of the National Academies. Most notably, Prof. Karim was awarded the top U.S. breakthrough prize (Twas-Lenovo Prize) for developing world scientists and was also awarded South Africa’s highest honour, the Order of Mapungubwe, for her work in fighting the HIV epidemic in South Africa. Her scientific discoveries have contributed not only to better treatment but also to make women more self-reliant in risk prevention.