Assistant Professor of Epidemiology


Dr. Bengtson's research focuses on improving the health of HIV-infected women and their children during the perinatal period. Her work explores the impact of HIV drugs on pregnancy outcomes, investigates novel strategies to measure and support ongoing engagement in HIV care, and addresses common comorbid conditions with HIV during pregnancy, including gestational diabetes, hypertension, and perinatal depression. Dr. Bengtson has worked extensively in sub-Saharan Africa, most recently in Malawi and South Africa. She received her PhD in 2015 from the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina.


Research Interests: 

  • Global perinatal health
  • HIV and pregnancy
  • Engagement in HIV care
  • Obesity during pregnancy
  • Perinatal depression
  • Maternal immunization 


Key Publications:

Bengtson AM, Go V, Kumwenda W, Lurie M, Kutengule A, Owino M, Hosseinipour M.  "A way of escaping": a qualitative study exploring reasons for clinic transferring and its impact on clinical care among women in Option B+. AIDS Care. Epub ahead of print, May 9, 2019.

Bengtson AM, Sanfilippo AM, Hughes B, Savitz D. Maternal immunization to improve the health of HIV-exposed infants: a review of the current evidence. The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2019;(4):e120-e131

Bengtson AM, Pence BW, Mimiaga MJ, Gaynes BN, Moore RD, Christopoulos K, O’Cleirigh C, Grelotti D, Napravnik S, Crane H, Mugavero M. Depressive symptoms and engagement in care across the HIV treatment cascade. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2019 Jan 18;68(3):475-48

Bengtson AM, Pence PW, Crane HM, Moore R, Mimiaga MJ, Mathew WC, Heine A, Gaynes BN, Napravnik S, Christopoulos K, Crane HW, Mugavero MJ. The relationship between ever reporting depressive symptoms and all-cause mortality in a cohort of HIV-infected adults in routine care. AIDS, 2017;31(7):1009-1016.

Bengtson AM, Chibwesha CJ, Westreich D, Mubiana-Mbewe M, Chi B, Miller WC, Mapani M, Pence B, Musonda P, Stringer JSA, Pettifor A. Identifying HIV-infected women at highest risk of postpartum loss to follow up: development of a clinical risk score. AIDS Care. 2016; 28(8):1035-45.  

Bengtson AM, Chibwesha CJ, Westreich D, Mubiana-Mbewe M, Vwalika B, Miller W, Mapani M, Musonda P, Pettifor A, Chi B. Duration of cART before delivery and infant birthweight among HIV-infected pregnant women in Lusaka, Zambia. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2016; 71(5):563-9


Current Projects:

An implementation science approach to monitoring engagement in HIV care (PI: Bengtson/R00MH112413)

In recent year, the global HIV community has scaled up access to antiretroviral therapy to all pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV. However, keeping women on treatment is difficult - in part because women often switch clinics during the perinatal period due to changes in employment, relationship status, or other needs. This project leverages biometric fingerprint scanning across a network of HIV clinics to characterize engagement in HIV care and clinic switches during the perinatal period, and identify key determinants of clinic switching, with the goal of eventually developing more flexible models of HIV care that better meet the needs of HIV infected women. 


Adaptation of the Friendship Bench mental health intervention for HIV-infected perinatal women in Malawi (MPI: Bengtson/R34MH116806)

Pregnant women living with HIV have unacceptably high levels of perinatal depression. In resource limited settings, the lack of skilled mental health professionals and concerns about antidepressant use during pregnancy have led to a critical lack of treatment options for this population. The goal of this project it to pilot test an evidence-based counseling intervention delivered by lay healthcare workers to address perinatal depression and support engagement in HIV care among HIV-infected pregnant women in Malawi.


Exploring the burden and impact of hypertension and gestational diabetes in the context of high obesity and HIV burden in South Africa (PI: Bengtson/CFAR/School of Public Health/PSTC)

In South Africa, nearly 30% of pregnant women are living with HIV and 40% are obese. Antiretroviral therapy is essential to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission and improve a woman’s health, however antiretroviral therapy may lead to metabolic changes such as increased adiposity and insulin resistance. How metabolic changes related to antiretroviral therapy use will affect pregnancy complications and the health of women and children over time is not clear. In this pilot study, we evaluate the prevalence and implications of gestational diabetes, hypertension, and abnormal metabolic markers in pregnancy in a cohort by HIV-infection status and antiretroviral therapy use.

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

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