Kathleen J. Sikkema, PhD

Stephen Smith Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
Honorary Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, University of Cape Town


Kathleen J. Sikkema, Ph.D., conducts community based intervention research focused on HIV prevention and mental health treatment in the U.S. and in low and middle income countries. She is a clinical psychologist who specializes in health and community psychology. Dr. Sikkema has led pioneering scholarship in global mental health, specifically related to traumatic stress, coping and gender violence. Funded by NIH for thirty years, her research program has focused on community-level HIV prevention trials, mental health interventions to improve HIV care engagement, and university-community research collaboration. U.S.-based HIV prevention interventions and mental health interventions developed by Dr. Sikkema and her teams have been identified by CDC and SAMHSA as best evidence interventions. Her research on HIV and mental health has had wide-ranging impact, including the development of prevention programs to improve health behaviors and access to treatment in low resource populations in this country and abroad. In South Africa, where Dr. Sikkema has worked for twenty years, her current research focuses on integrating mental health treatment into HIV primary care for women who have experienced sexual trauma. This research addresses the syndemic nature of HIV and mental disorders, whereby social and economic contextual factors create and exacerbate the risk of disease progression.