Kathleen Wirth

Research Scientist

Department of Epidemiology

Dr. Kathleen Wirth is a Research Scientist jointly appointed in the Departments of Epidemiology and Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is also an Associated Researcher at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health AIDS Initiative.

Dr. Wirth serves as the Senior Epidemiologist overseeing all statistical and quantitative efforts for the Botswana Combination Prevention Project, a pair-matched community randomized trial involving more than 100,000 individuals residing in 30 communities throughout Botswana. The primary objective of this CDC-funded project is to test the hypothesis that implementing an enhanced combination prevention package which includes provision of antiretroviral therapy as prevention for HIV-infected individuals with HIV-1 RNA ≥10,000 copies/ml will impact the HIV/AIDS epidemic by significantly reducing population-level, cumulative HIV incidence and will be cost-effective.

Dr. Wirth also actively collaborates with the International Training and Education Center for Health in Botswana and the Botswana Ministry of Health on a large, mixed-methods study evaluating Botswana’s National Safe Male Circumcision ProKathleen7gram. Additionally, she is the lead epidemiologist for a multi-site randomized trial of neonatal male circumcision in southeastern Botswana at the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute and a prospective cohort study of treatment outcomes among HIV-exposed, uninfected infants hospitalized for severe pneumonia in Gaborone.

In addition to her field work in Botswana, Dr. Wirth has been deeply involved in the development and application of instrumental variable (IV) techniques for regression analysis. She recently used operational features such as interviewer identity and timing to correct for survey non-participation in estimating HIV prevalence in Zambia and Botswana. Dr. Wirth also works in partnership with researchers at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa to apply IV methods to adjust for unobserved confounding in evaluating the impact of community antiretroviral coverage on HIV incidence in rural KwaZulu-Natal.


ScD, Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, 2011

BA, Economics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2003

Selected Publications

Gaolathe T., Wirth K.E., Pretorius Holme M., Makhema J., Moyo S., Chakalisa U., et al. Botswana’s progress toward achieving the 2020 UNAIDS 90-90-90 antiretroviral therapy and virological suppression goals: a population-based survey. Lancet HIV. 2016; 3(5):e221-30.

Wirth K.E. Alternative forms of penile foreskin cutting and HIV infection in Papua New Guinea. Sexually Transmitted Infections. 2016; 92(3):193.

Wirth KE, Semo B, Ntsuape C, Ramabu NM, Otlhomile B, et al. Triggering the decision to undergo medical male circumcision: A qualitative study of adult men in Botswana. AIDS Care. 2016 11:1-6.

Mayondi GK, Wirth KE, Morroni C, Moyo S, Makhema J, Ajibola G, Disesko M, Sakoi M, Magetse J, Moabi K, Leidner J, Kammerer B, Lockman S. Unintended pregnancy, contraceptive use, and childbearing desires among HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected women in Botswana: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health. 2016; 16(1): 44.

Wirth K.E., Austin M.D., Barr C., DeGruttola V. A composite likelihood approach for estimating HIV prevalence in the presence of spatial variation. Statistics in Medicine. 2015; 34(28):3750-9.

Wirth K.E.* and Wolf E.R.*, Ho-Foster A., Goldfarb D., Tolle M., Makone I., Jacovides C., Chise M., Steenhoff A.P. Risk factor for measles acquisition among HIV-positive children and adolescents in Botswana. Pediatric Infectious Diseases Journal. 2015; 34(10):1093-5.

Kelly M.S., Wirth K.E., Madrigano J., Feemster K.A., Cunningham C.K., Arscott-Mills T., Boiditswe S., Shah S.S., Finalle R., Steenhoff A.P. The effect of exposure to wood smoke on outcomes of childhood pneumonia in Botswana. The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. 2015; 19(3): 349-55.

Kelly M.S., Wirth K.E., Steenhoff A.P., Cunningham C., Arscott-Mills T., Boiditswe C., Patel Z., Shah S.S., Finalle R., Makone I., Feemster K. Treatment failures and excess mortality among HIV-exposed, uninfected children with pneumonia in Botswana. Journal of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 2014; doi: 10.1093/jpids/piu092

Plank R.P., Wirth K.E., Ndubuka N., Abdullahi, Nkgau M., Lesetedi C., Powis K., Mmalane M., Makhema J., Shapiro R., Lockman S. Single-Arm Evaluation of the AccuCirc Device for Early Infant Male Circumcision in Botswana. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 2014; 66(1): e1-6

Wirth KE, Tchetgen Tchetgen EJ. Accounting for selection bias in association studies with complex survey data. Epidemiology. 2014; 25(3): 444-453.

Wirth KE, Tchetgen Tchetgen EJ, Silverman JG, Murray M. How does sex trafficking increase the risk of HIV infection? An observational study from Southern India. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2013; 177(3):232-41.

Plank R, Ndubuka N, Wirth KE, Mwambona J, Kebaabetswe P, Bassil B, Lesetedi C, Hussein F, Magetse J, Nkgau M, Mosetsana, Makhema J, Mmalane M, Creek T, Powis K, Shapiro R, Lockman S. A randomized trial of Mogen Clamp versus Plastibell for neonatal male circumcision in Botswana. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. 2013; 62(5): e131-7.

Kelly MS, ConwayM, Wirth KE, Potter-Bynoe G, Billett A, Sandora TJ. Microbiology and risk factors for CLABSI among pediatric oncology outpatients. Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology. 2013; 35(2):e71-6.

Welch H, Steenhoff AP, Chakalisa U, Arscott-Mills T, Tiwarenge S, Madan S, Gokhale N, Mazhani L, Mokomane M, Foster-Fabiano S, Wirth KE, Skinn A, Pernica JM, Smieja M, Goldfarb DM. Hospital-based Surveillance for Rotavirus Gastroenteritis using Molecular Testing and Immunoassay during the 2011 Season in Botswana. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal. 2013; 32(5):570-572.

Silverman, JG, Decker M, Cheng D, Wirth KE, Saggurti N, McCauley H, Balaiah D, Raj A. Gender-based Disparities in Infant and Child Mortality based on Maternal Exposure to Spousal Violence: The Heavy Burden Borne by Indian Girls. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. 2011; 165(1): 22-27.

Wirth KE, Tchetgen Tchetgen EJ, Murray M. Adjustment for missing data in complex surveys using doubly robust estimation: Application to commercial sexual contact among Indian men. Epidemiology. 2010; 21(6):863-71.

Rein DB, Wittenborn JS, Lee PP, Wirth KE, Sorensen SW, Hoerger TJ, Saaddine JB. The The Cost-Effectiveness of Routine Identification and Subsequent Medical Treatment of Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma. Ophthalmology. 2009; 116(5):823-32.

Wirth KE, Rein DB. The Economic Costs and Benefits of Dog Guides for the Blind.Ophthalmic Epidemiology. 2008; 15(2):92-8.

Rein DB, Hicks KA, Wirth KE, Billah K, Finelli L, Fiore AE, Hoerger TJ, Bell BP, Armstrong GL. Cost-effectiveness of routine childhood vaccination for hepatitis A in the United States. Pediatrics. 2007; 119(1):e12-21.

Armstrong GL, Billah K, Rein DB, Hicks KA, Wirth KE, Bell BP. The Economics of Routine Childhood Hepatitis A Immunization in the United States–The Impact of Herd Immunity. Pediatrics. 2007; 119(1):e22-9.

Honeycutt AA, Anderson WL, Wirth KE, Coleman MS. Cost-Effectiveness of Standing Orders for Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccinations in North Carolina Hospitals. Vaccine. 2007; 25(8):1484-96.

Rein DB, Wirth KE, Johnson CA, Lee PP.Estimating Quality-Adjusted Life Year Losses Associated with Visual Field Deficits Using Methodological Approaches. Ophthalmic Epidemiology. 2007; 14(4):258-64.

Rein DB, Zhang P, Wirth KE, Lee PP, Hoerger TJ, McCall N, Klein R, Tielsch JM, Vijan S, Saadine J. The Economic Burden of Major Adult Visual Disorders in the United States. Archives of Ophthalmology. 2006; 124(12):1754-60.