Professor Christine Varga

Professor Christine Varga


Professor Christine Varga


+27 (031) 260 8533




Research Interests

Socio-behavioral aspects of health and illness, antimicrobial resistance and stewardship, e-learning/digital learning technology, integration of nursing (research) perspectives into (public) health interventions


Associate Professor


Christine A. Varga is a biomedical anthropologist and registered nurse. Her interest in Africa grew from time spent in Sierra Leone, West Africa, as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV). As a PCV, Christine worked in a halfway house for street children, and designed a numeracy and literacy program for its vocational training center. Born in Cincinnati Ohio (USA), she first came to South Africa in 1991 as a masters student in bioanthropology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (USA). Her masters project explored maternal-child health practices among Zulu women in Ubombo, northern (then) Natal Province. She returned to South Africa in 1993 as a Fulbright and National Science Foundation scholar to pursue fieldwork toward her PhD. She received her doctorate in anthropology (biomedical emphasis) in 1998 from the University of Pennsylvania and received an Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship to work with well-known demographer Jack Caldwell at the National Center for Epidemiology and Public Health at Australian National University. While writing up her PhD and lecturing anthropology at the former University of Natal, Christine became interested in HIV/AIDS-related issues in South Africa. This began a 10-year career in sexual and reproductive health and HIV-related social science research, program evaluation, and policy work. Her work has focused on various populations including adolescents and young adults, blood donors, men who have sex with men, commercial sex workers, pregnant women and infants. Her research on social and community dynamics influencing vertical HIV infection risk helped to shape existing national-level policy and legislation in South Africa on mother-to-child HIV transmission.

In South Africa, Christine worked for various non-profit and parastatal organizations, including the Reproductive Health Research Unit and the Human Sciences Research Council. While in the U.S., she served as a Program Officer at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in Chicago. In 2005, Christine founded her own non-profit research organization, Nozizwe Consulting. Nozizwe focused primarily on program monitoring and evaluation, formative and evaluative research linked to public health interventions, and training on social science research methods and program evaluation. In 2008 she made the decision to move from research and policy to clinical medicine, and this led to pursing a Masters degree in Nursing at Xavier University in Cincinnati Ohio. She received her degree and nursing license in 2012 and worked as a medical surgical cardiac telemetry nurse until she returned to South Africa in late August 2013 to take up the post of Associate Professor in the School of Health Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Christine is the author of numerous manuscripts and publications. According to Google scholar, her h-index is 15, with 1140 citations (4 publications have in excess of 100 citations). Over half of these citations (640) have been since 2008. This attests to the continued and expanding topical relevance of her past research. Prior to joining UKZN, Christine was involved in consulting work surrounding antimicrobial resistance and stewardship, which has become a main research. Christine is the co-investigator and project coordinator on a R20 million 5-year grant exploring strategies to encourage antimicrobial stewardship and reduce resistance in Malawi and Mozambique. Her other research interests include innovative approaches to e-learning and instruction (particularly the application of digital game-based technology in online/e-learning settings), and, from a nursing perspective, end of life care and hospice experiences. Her current teaching is focused within the online Master of Health Sciences programme. She also coordinates and teaches on the School of Health Sciences Post-Graduate Cohort Supervision and Mentorship Programme. 

List of Publications

  1. A. and H.J. Brookes (2008) Preventing Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission in South African Adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Research, 23(2):172-205.
  2. Varga, C.A. and H.J. Brookes (2008) Factors Influencing Teen Mothers’ Enrollment and Participation in Prevention of Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission Services in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Qualitative Health Research, 18(6):786-802.
  3. Varga, C.A., Sherman, G.G. and Jones, S.A. (2006) HIV-disclosure in the context of vertical transmission: HIV-positive mothers in Johannesburg, South Africa. AIDS CARE 18(8):952-960.
  4. Varga, C.A., Sherman G.G., Maphosa, J. and Jones, SA. (2005)Psychosocial Consequences of Early Diagnosis of HIV Status in Vertically Exposed Infants in Johannesburg, South Africa. Health Care for Women International, 26(5):387-397.
  5. Jones, SA., Sherman G.G. and Varga C.A. (2005) Exploring Socioeconomic conditions and poor follow-up rates of HIV-exposed infants in Johannesburg. AIDS CARE, 17(4):466-470.
  6. Minwalla, O, Rosser, B.R.S., Feldman, J. and Varga, C.A. (2005) Gay Identity experience among progressive gay Muslims in North America. Culture, Health and Sexuality, 7(2):113-128.
  7. Varga, C.A. (2003) How Gender Roles Influence Sexual and Reproductive Health Among South African Adolescents. Studies in Family Planning vol. 34(3):160-172.
  8. Varga, C.A. (2002) South African Youth and Pregnancy Termination: Knowledge, Attitudes and Choices. Studies in Family Planning vol.33(4):283-298.
  9. Varga, C. A. (2001) Coping with HIV/AIDS in Durban’s Commercial Sex Industry, AIDS CARE 13(3):355-369.
  10. Jones, S.J and Varga, C.A. (2001) Bloodwise or blood-borne? Knowledge, attitudes and practices surrounding blood transfusion in a Durban community. Society in Transition: Journal of the South African Sociological Association 32(1):45-60.
  11. Varga, C.A. (2001) Young Men and Sexual and Reproductive Health Programs: A Review of Relevant Literature, African Journal of Reproductive Health 5(3), 175-195.
  12. Varga, C.A. (2000) Young People and HIV/AIDS in South Africa: Is there Room for Behavior Change? Development Bulletin 52:67-70. June 2000
  13. Varga C. A. & D.J.H. Veale (1997) Isihlambezo: utilization patterns and potential health effects of pregnancy-related traditional herbal medicine.Social Science & Medicine, 44(7):911-924.
  14. Varga C.A.(1997) The condom conundrum: barriers to condom use among commercial sex workers in Durban, South Africa. African Journal of Reproductive Health 1(1):74-88.
  15. Varga C.A. (1997) Sexual decision-making and negotiation in the midst of AIDS: youth in KwaZulu/Natal. Health Transition Review, 7(suppl.3):13-42.
  16. Varga C.A. & E.L.Makubalo (1996) Sexual (non) negotiation. Agenda, No. 28:31-38.



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