Harsha Thirumurthy, PhD


  •  Associate Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy | University of Pennsylvania
  •  India | Kenya | Uganda | Zimbabwe
  •   Health economics | HIV/AIDS | Non-communicable disease | Nutrition

Languages: English (native), Tamil, Kiswahili, Spanish

Bio statement

Professor Thirumurthy’s interests lie at the intersection of economics and public health. His research seeks to design and evaluate interventions to promote health behaviors in low-income settings, particularly eastern and southern Africa. His work has focused on medication adherence, HIV prevention and treatment, and behaviors related to maternal and child health. He has led several randomized trials of interventions to promote takeup and use of health services and technologies. His research has also assessed impacts of large-scale health initiatives such as PEPFAR and the President’s Malaria Initiative. Currently he is leading projects in India, Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

Recent global health projects

1. Funded by NIH: Secondary distribution of HIV self-tests: an innovative strategy for promoting partner testing and reducing HIV risk. This study is a randomized trial that will assess whether provision of multiple HIV self-tests to women at high risk of acquiring HIV in Kenya is effective in promoting greater awareness of partner HIV status and also facilitating safer sexual decision-making.

2. Funded by NIH: Innovative Incentive Strategies for Sustainable HIV Testing and Linkage to Care. This study will implement and evaluate novel incentive-based interventions to increase HIV testing among men and link HIV-positive persons to treatment.

Selected publications

Richterman A, Roberto CA, Thirumurthy H. Associations Between Ending Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Emergency Allotments and Food Insufficiency. JAMA Health Forum. 2023;4(8):e232511. doi:10.1001/jamahealthforum.2023.2511

Thirumurthy H, Bair EF, Ochwal P, Marcus N, Putt M, Maman S, Napierala S, Agot K. The effect of providing women sustained access to HIV self-tests on male partner testing, couples testing, and HIV incidence in Kenya: a cluster-randomized trial. Lancet HIV. 2021 Dec;8(12):e736-e746. doi: 10.1016/S2352-3018(21)00248-4. PMID: 34856179.

Sibanda EL, Tumushime M, Mufuka J, Mavedzenge SN, Gudukeya S, Bautista-Arredondo S, Hatzold K, Thirumurthy H, McCoy SI, Padian N, Copas A, Cowan FM (2017). Effect of non-monetary incentives on uptake of couples' counselling and testing among clients attending mobile HIV services in rural Zimbabwe: a cluster-randomised trial. Lancet Global Health 2017 Sep; 5(9):907-915. doi: 10.1016/S2214-109X(17)30296-6.

Jakubowski AE, Stearns SC, Angeles G, Kruk ME, Thirumurthy H (2017). The US President's Malaria Initiative and under-five child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. PLOS Medicine 2017 June; 14(6). doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002319.

Thirumurthy H, Masters SH, Napierala Mavedzenge S, Maman S, Omanga E, Agot K (2016). Promoting male partner testing and safer sexual decision-making through secondary distribution of HIV self-tests by HIV-uninfected female sex workers and women receiving antenatal and postpartum care in Kenya: a cohort study. The Lancet HIV 2016; 3(6): e266–e274. doi: 10.1016/S2352-3018(16)00041-2. 

Thirumurthy H, Masters SH, Rao S, Bronson MA, Lanham M, Omanga E, Evens E, Agot K (2014). Effect of providing conditional economic compensation on uptake of voluntary medical male circumcision in Kenya: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA 2014; 312(7):703-711. doi: 10.1001/jama.2014.9087.

Thirumurthy H, Graff Zivin J (2012). Health and labor supply in the context of HIV/AIDS: the long-run economic impacts on antiretroviral therapy. Economic Development and Cultural Change 2012; 61(1):73-96. doi: 10.1086/666954. 

Graff Zivin J, Thirumurthy H, Goldstein M (2009). AIDS treatment and intrahousehold resource allocations: children’s nutrition and schooling in Kenya. Journal of Public Economics 2009; 93:1008-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2009.03.003.

Last Updated: 24 August 2023