Dr Lesley Gittings

Honorary Research Associate, Adolescent Accelerators Research Hub

Research Project(s)

  • Mzantsi Wakho Adolescent Adherence Study
  • UKRI GCRF Accelerate Hub;

Research Interests

  • Qualitative, art-based and participatory research approaches for youth empowerment and well-being;
  • Social and ecological determinants of HIV and sexual and reproductive health; and
  • Medical pluralism, traditional and Indigenous approaches to well-being.


Dr. Lesley Gittings is a community-engaged health equity researcher with an interest in the social and structural factors that shape health across the life course. Her research focuses on: (1) social and ecological determinants of HIV and sexual and reproductive health; and (2) participatory and art-based approaches for youth empowerment and well-being. She engages culturally grounded, strengths-based approaches rooted in social justice.
She is currently an investigator on studies in Southern Africa, Eastern Africa and Canada, with youth populations facing social, structural and environmental barriers to health equity. These include: adolescents living with HIV in South Africa, climate change affected adolescents in Kenya, refugee youth in Uganda; Indigenous and Northern young people in the Northwest Territories and youth experiencing homelessness in Toronto.
Lesley is an Assistant Professor at Western University in Canada and a Research Associate at the University of Cape Town. She holds a PhD and Master’s from the University of Cape Town. Her doctoral research with the Mzantsi Wakho study focused on the biosocial lives of adolescent boys and young men with perinatally-acquired HIV. She has worked in the HIV and health sectors in Canada, Southern and Eastern Africa for 15 years.

Recent Publications 

  • Gittings, L., Price, Y., Kelly, J., Medley, S., Kannemeyer, N., Thomas, A., Ralayo, N., Omullo, V., Obbuyi, A., Cluver, L. Logie, C., and Toska, E. (2022). Health and development priorities of South African and Kenyan adolescents prior to, and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Psychology, Health and Medicine. DOI: 10.1080/13548506.2022.2108084

  • Gittings, L., Medley, S., Logie, C., Ralalyo, N., Toska, E., Peterson, N., Cluver, L., Chen, J., Art-based reflections from 12 years of adolescent health and development-related research in South Africa. (2022). Journal of Health Promotion International. 37(S2): ii83-ii96. DOI: /10.1093/heapro/daac020. 

  • Gittings, L., Colvin, C., Hodes, R. (2022). ‘Blood and blood: Anti-retroviral therapy, masculinity and redemption among adolescent boys in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa’. Medical Anthropology Quarterly. 36(3): 367-390. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/maq.12686