Last Name

Lisa J. Messersmith, PhD

TitleAssociate Professor
InstitutionBoston University School of Public Health
DepartmentGlobal Health
Address801 Massachusetts Ave Crosstown Center
Boston MA 02118
Phone(617) 414-1449
ORCID ORCID Icon0000-0003-4376-7968
 Awards and Honors

1983Hamilton College: Thomas E. Meehan Prize for Distinction in Creative Writing
1990-1991National Resource Fellowship (Title VI)
1990UCLA: Department of Anthropology Awards Committee Research Grant
1990UCLA: Center for the Study of Women Research and Travel Award
1991UCLA: Department of Anthropology Tuition Fellowship
1992-1993Fulbright Fellowship for dissertation research in Nigeria
1993-1994American Association of University Women Educational Foundation: American Fellow
1993-1994University of California, Los Angeles: Chancellor's Dissertation Year Fellowship
2003International Health and Human Rights Program, Francois Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human : Fellow
2004Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Medal for the People's Health
2010Boston University School of Public Health: Excellent in Teaching Award
 Research Expertise & Professional Interests
Lisa J. Messersmith has over 25 years of research, program and policy experience on gender, sexuality, HIV, and sexual and reproductive health and rights in Sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia. Dr. Messersmith is the principal investigator (PI) on several studies, most recently on a National Institute of Mental Health-funded study to test the effectiveness of wireless technology and data-informed counseling to improve retention in HIV care and adherence to antiretroviral therapy in HIV positive pregnant and postpartum women in Uganda. Other current research includes: a randomized control trial to evaluate interventions to address intimate partner violence in Tanzania; two studies in Ghana that explore the behavioral, socio-economic and structural vulnerability to HIV of people who inject drugs and women who work in bars; a study on the HIV and reproductive health and social service needs of women living with HIV and the first national study to document the types and magnitude of discrimination experienced by people living with HIV in Vietnam. She was also the principal investigator and Director of the Vietnam AIDS Policy and Planning Project, which trained nearly 850 senior policy makers at national and provincial level to design, implement and evaluate rights-based and multi-sectoral responses to HIV. Dr. Messersmith worked in residence for over 13 years in Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Vietnam and has worked in a number of other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Before joining BU SPH in 2007 she was as an Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy and Research Fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. From 1998 to 2004 Dr. Messersmith served as the Sexuality and Reproductive Health Program Officer for the Ford Foundation's Office for Vietnam and Thailand. Prior to her departure in 2004, the Vietnam Ministry of Health awarded her the Medal for the People's Health. In 2003, Dr. Messersmith was a visiting fellow at the Francois Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health. She served as the Country Programme Advisor for UNAIDS in Bangladesh from 1996 to 1998. From 1994 to 1995 she was a Research Associate in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health and concurrently served as the Women and AIDS advisor for USAID in Washington, DC. Dr. Messersmith's career in international health and development began in Burkina Faso in 1985 where she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. She has a PhD and MA in Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles, a Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, and a Bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Hamilton College.

 Self-Described Keywords
  • HIV
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health
  • Sexual and Reproductive Rights
  • Gender
  • Social and Structural Determinants of Health
  • HIV-Related Stigma and Discrimination
Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
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  1. Trout CH, Dembélé O, Diakité D, Bougoudogo F, Doumbia B, Mathieu J, Haidara A, Sangaré A, Traoré S, Burtner J, Cabral H, Messersmith LJ. West African female sex workers in Mali: reduction in HIV prevalence and differences in risk profiles of sex workers of differing nationalities of origin. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2015 Mar 1; 68 Suppl 2:S221-31. PMID: 25723988.
    View in: PubMed
  2. Messersmith LJ, Adjei R, Beard J, Agyarko-Poku T, Wondergem P, Falconer A, Sabin L, Adu-Sarkodie Y. Drug use and sexual behavior: the multiple HIV vulnerabilities of men and women who inject drugs in Kumasi, Ghana. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2015 Mar 1; 68 Suppl 2:S124-30. PMID: 25723976.
    View in: PubMed
  3. Herlihy JM, Shaikh A, Mazimba A, Gagne N, Grogan C, Mpamba C, Sooli B, Simamvwa G, Mabeta C, Shankoti P, Messersmith L, Semrau K, Hamer DH. Local perceptions, cultural beliefs and practices that shape umbilical cord care: a qualitative study in Southern Province, Zambia. PLoS One. 2013; 8(11):e79191. PMID: 24244447.
    View in: PubMed
  4. Messersmith LJ, Semrau K, Anh TL, Trang NN, Hoa DM, Eifler K, Sabin L. Women living with HIV in Vietnam: desire for children, use of sexual and reproductive health services, and advice from providers. Reprod Health Matters. 2012 Dec; 20(39 Suppl):27-38. PMID: 23177678.
    View in: PubMed
  5. Premkumar A, Salem K, Akhtar S, Deeb ME, Messersmith LJ. Sectarianism and the problem of overpopulation: political representations of reproduction in two low-income neighbourhoods of Beirut, Lebanon. Cult Health Sex. 2012; 14(10):1139-52. PMID: 22978599.
    View in: PubMed
  6. Messersmith LJ, Semrau K, Hammett TM, Phong NT, Tung ND, Nguyen H, Glandon D, Huong NM, Anh HT. 'Many people know the law, but also many people violate it': discrimination experienced by people living with HIV/AIDS in Vietnam--results of a national study. Glob Public Health. 2013; 8 Suppl 1:S30-45. PMID: 22974225.
    View in: PubMed
  7. Messersmith, L. Reflections on my life and work in Vietnam. Vietnam’s 20-Year Response to HIV/AIDS through the Eyes of International Friends. Editor: Nguyen Quoc Trieu. Hanoi, Vietnam. 2010; 207-212.
  8. Messersmith, L., Semrau, K., Tran, L.A., Nguyen, N.T., Dao, Eifler, K., and Sabin, L. Contested sexual and reproductive rights of women living with HIV in Vietnam: Experience with health care providers and family members in sexual health decision-making. 2010.
  9. Messersmith, L., Tran, H.B., Truong, Q.T., Montagu, D., La, H., Smith, A., Eifler, K., Tuchman, J. and Le, V.A. . Strengthening Multisectoral Leadership and Engagement on HIV/AIDS in Vietnam: Evidence from an Evaluation of AIDS Policy Training in Six Provinces. Abstract of poster presentation. International AIDS Conference, Vienna Austria. 2010.
  10. Messersmith, L., Sabin, L., Tran, L.A., Nguyen N.T., Dao, M.H., Eifler, K., and Semrau, K. . Addressing gender-based violence and the reproductive health needs of women living with HIV/AIDS in Vietnam: an evaluation of interventions to improve health and social services. 2010.
  11. Messersmith, L. Making AIDS Policy Sexy: Evaluation of AIDS Policy Training to Engender a Gendered and Human Rights Response in Vietnam. Culture, Health and Sexuality: An International Journal for Research, Intervention and Care. 2009; 11 Suppl 1:S73-74.
  12. Messersmith, L. Lived Experience and Contested Domains: Sexuality and Reproductive and Sexual Health Decision-Making of Women Living with HIV in Vietnam. Culture, Health and Sexuality: An International Journal for Research, Intervention and Care. 2009; 11 Suppl 1:S89-90.
  13. Kaufman, J. and Messersmith, L. . Integrating the Fields of Sexual and Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS. 2005.
  14. Messersmith, L. Gender and AIDS. 2005.
  15. Messersmith, L. Introduction. HIV/AIDS Roundtable Report. HIV/AIDS Roundtable Report. 2001.
  16. Messersmith LJ, Kane TT, Odebiyi AI, Adewuyi AA. Who's at risk? Men's STD experience and condom use in southwest Nigeria. Stud Fam Plann. 2000 Sep; 31(3):203-16. PMID: 11020932.
    View in: PubMed
  17. Morgan, W. and Messersmith, L. . HIV/AIDS Resource Guide for Media Professionals in Bangladesh. 1997.
  18. Long, L. and Messersmith, L. . Reconceptualizing Risk: A Feminist Analysis of HIV/AIDS. The Encyclopedia of Third World Women (Nelly Stromquist, Ed.). Garland Publishing. New York. 1997.
  19. Messersmith, Lisa J. Trust, Power and Commitment: The Social and Economic Determinants of Sexual Behavior in Urban Southwest Nigeria. 1994.
  20. Messersmith, L., Kane, T., Odebiyi, A., and Adewuyi, A. . Patterns of Sexual Behavior and Condom Use in Ile-Ife, Nigeria: Implications for AIDS/STD Prevention and Control. Health Transition Review. 1994; 4:197-216.
  21. Messersmith, Lisa J. An Introduction to Qualitative Methods. 1992.
  22. Messersmith, Lisa J. The Women of Good Times and Baba's Place: The Multi-Dimensionality of the Lives of Commercial Sex Workers in Bamako, Mali. Los Angeles. 1991.
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