Stephen Lawn

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: (Published 31 October 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i5755
  1. Anne Gulland
  1. London
  1. agulland{at}

Major contributor to reducing the burden of HIV associated TB in resource poor settings

At the end of his first year at medical school, Stephen Lawn drove across the Sahara with a group of friends. The trek took place during the 1985 drought, and, for a young man from Yorkshire, the journey was transformative. Lawn was the son of an Anglican vicar, and his faith had always been important, but here it really came alive, sparking a desire in him to use his medical degree to make a difference in Africa.

Throughout his career, Lawn combined hands-on clinical medicine with research—the defining question being how to reduce mortality and morbidity from HIV associated tuberculosis (TB). He did his major research in this area in South Africa.

Antiretroviral drugs and tuberculosis

Lawn, his wife, Joy, a paediatrician and perinatal epidemiologist, and their two children moved to South Africa in 2005, where he first worked as a research associate at the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre at the University of Cape Town. He worked in the townships, diagnosing patients with HIV and TB and also becoming involved in one of the first big trials of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) in Africa, in the face of opposition from the government. This work led to his involvement in the revision of guidelines for antiretroviral therapy for poor settings.

It was in South Africa that he established that …

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