Dr. Rita Nakalega, MBChB, MPH, for more than seven years, has implemented HIV epidemiological research plus health promotion and prevention programs in rural and urban communities in Uganda. One of her major successes was leading a team to implement a community outreach program targeting young female sex workers in rural Uganda that was aimed at bringing HIV prevention care and treatment services closer to this vulnerable and at-risk population.
Since 2016, her research has focused on HIV related and biomedical HIV prevention plus novel products with particular emphasis on questions that bridge HIV prevention with reproductive health for women living in sub-Saharan Africa. She has dedicated most of her career to reducing the burden and incidence of HIV in Uganda. She has been involved in various NIH-funded HIV prevention trials at MU-JHU including the HPTN 084 clinical trial whose results indicated that long-acting cabotegravir (CAB LA) injections once every eight weeks were safe and superior to daily oral PrEP. She was also the Study Coordinator for the MTN-034 (REACH) trial among adolescents and young women (AGYW), which provided useful data on the safety and acceptability of oral PrEP and Dapivirine vaginal ring in this dynamic population.
In 2021, she was the Principal Investigator and a Global Health Fellow under the Fogarty UJMT consortium fellowship program; she conducted an implementation science project that illustrated peer delivery of HIV self-testing and oral PrEP to young women is acceptable and feasible. Her current work focuses on improving the uptake of Malaria preventive treatment among pregnant women and HIV prevention options for young women. Dr. Nakalega strives to be an independent global health investigator in sub-Saharan Africa conducting impactful research and mentoring the next generation of researchers.