Letitia Greener

Researcher, Wits Adolescent and Child Health Research Unit

Letitia Rambally Greener immerses herself in an environment many would prefer not to think about — sex work, gender-based violence and the impact of HIV. Greener hopes to drive evidencebased policymaking that helps bring about positive change and meaningfully contributes to sustainable social transformation in society. “As a researcher, I must be objective and impartial, but I must admit I have become a bit of an activist over time,” she says.

“The science shows us that as long as all aspects of sex work remain criminalised, women will continue to be disempowered, stigmatised and vulnerable to violence. We need a human-rights-based approach to engage and collaborate with community members, researchers, policymakers and civil society to change mindsets, remove stigma and lobby for law reforms.” Greener is currently a senior researcher with a joint appointment at the Maternal, Adolescent and Child Health Research Unit, a division of the Wits Health Consortium in the faculty of health sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand. She has a background in psychology, achieving her master’s in social science (research psychology), and is now working on her doctorate in public health at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Her research focuses on HIV with a fundamental interest in improving access to health care services among key populations, specifically women and adolescent girls, people living in informal settlements and LGBTTQI community members through psychologically informed interventions that work to encourage health promotion and simultaneously address HIV risk factors. “If you adapt traditional methods of providing services, you can make a difference,” she believes. Greener has received accolades for her work with female sex workers at the 7th South African Aids Conference (2015) and at the Wits Health Faculty Research Day (2016).

She is also a member of various health bodies, including the Psychological Society of South Africa, of which she is an active member of the Sexuality and Gender/ LGBTTQI Division, as well as the International Aids Society and Public Health Association of South Africa. Greener has been consulted for her expertise working with female sex workers, and has contributed to the Guidelines for Key Populations (2013) as well as the African LGBTI Human Rights Project, which aims to develop practice guidelines for psychology professionals working with sexually and gender diverse people. She has published in the areas of public health, social policy, social psychology, behavioural and social science and is a journal reviewer and abstract mentor.

— Tracy Burrows

Twitter: @letitiarambally