Dr. Hightow-Weidman came to UNC in 2001 to begin a fellowship in the Division of Infectious Diseases, after completing her residency in internal medicine at Stanford University. Before that, she earned her medical degree from the University of Virginia. During her fellowship at UNC, Dr. Hightow-Weidman earned a master’s degree in public health in epidemiology from the Gillings School of Global Public Health. She has been on faculty at UNC since 2004, and is currently an Associate Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Hightow-Weidman is an expert on social media, and utilization and evaluation of technology-based interventions addressing the HIV Care Continuum for youth and young adults, particularly among young men who have sex with men (YMSM). Her research interests include HIV prevention for men who have sex with men (MSM) using both the Internet and other mobile technologies; interventions that use gaming and social networks to change behavior; biomedical HIV prevention technologies; and HIV diagnosis, linkage and retention in care for young MSM. She leads the Behavior and Technology or BAT Lab at UNC.
Dr. Hightow-Weidman was the recipient of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) K23 award to develop an Internet and mobile phone-based HIV/STI intervention for black MSM, known as HealthMpowerment. She also received an NIH R21 grant to develop a mobile phone application called AllyQuest, which uses social networking and gamification to engage HIV-positive young MSM with care. Dr. Hightow-Weidman’s work has also led to the development of a virtual reality-based intervention known as Tough Talks, which uses character-driven scenarios to provide users with training in disclosing their HIV status. She secured funding from the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) to fund a project aimed at developing successful interventions focused on engaging with Mexican MSM and transgender women.
Dr. Hightow-Weidman is currently working to establish the UNC/Emory Center for Innovative Technology (iTech). The center will impact the HIV epidemic by developing and evaluating innovative interdisciplinary research on technology-based interventions across the HIV prevention and care continuum for at-risk or infected youth aged 15-24 years in the United States. iTech will be the first center to use technology in scientifically rigorous and innovative ways to engage and impact at-risk or infected youth.
When not doing research, Dr. Hightow-Weidman manages the care of HIV-positive adolescents and adults at the UNC Infectious Diseases Clinic.
Check out the full feature on the UNC School of Medicine website here.
Learn more about Dr. Hightow-Weidman here!