Mary DeSilva

Mary Bachman DeSilva, ScD, MS, MSFS

Associate Research Professor, Public Health

Associate Director for Research, Center for Excellence in Public Health

Dr. DeSilva is an epidemiologist and demographer, with additional expertise in quantitative analytic skills, writing, grantsmanship, and mentoring. Over the past twenty years, she has worked closely with a variety of public health and development projects in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. She currently provides expertise on mixed method research design, survey methodology, and statistical analysis to applied studies designed to improve child, caregiver, and family health.  Her past research has focused on orphans and vulnerable children (OVC); social and economic effects of HIV/AIDS and antiretroviral (ART) treatment; and medication adherence metrics and interventions. Dr. DeSilva recently completed a mixed methods study funded by the National Institutes for Health focused on reducing stigma among youth living with HIV in Vietnam.  Her research interests include child and adolescent health; caregiver health and nutrition; immigrant and refugee health; and chronic and mental health issues in these population groups. Dr. DeSilva came to UNE in 2016 from the Boston University School of Public Health, and spent the 2016-2017 academic year resident in Hanoi.



Dartmouth College
Georgetown School of Foreign Service
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health


Selected publications

Nhu KT, Bach NV, Susa J, DeSilva MB. (2022) Stigma, coping strategies, and their impact on treatment and health outcomes among young men living with HIV in Vietnam: A qualitative study. PLOS Global Public Health. September 20, 2022 doi: 10.1371/journal.pgph.0000669.

Sabin LL, Simmons E, Halim N, Hamer DH, Gifford AL, West RL, Larson A, Bonawitz R, Aroda P, Banigbe B, Holderman AJ, Murray L, DeSilva MB, Gasuza J, Mukasa B, Messersmith LJ. Real-time Feedback to Improve HIV Treatment Adherence in Pregnant and Postpartum Women in Uganda: A Randomized Controlled Trial. AIDS Behav. 2022 Jun 15. doi: 10.1007/s10461-022-03712-7. Online ahead of print.

Nhu KT, Bach NV, DeSilva M. Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on people living with HIV who are members of vulnerable groups in Vietnam. AIDS Behav. 2022 Feb 23;1-11. doi: 10.1007/s10461-022-03630-8

Sabin L Nguyen VC, Harvey K, Bonawitz R, Hai LT, Lam NV, Yen LT, Gifford A, Haberer J, Linh T, DeSilva M. Challenges to antiretroviral therapy adherence and coping strategies to overcome them: Qualitative investigations with adolescents living with HIV, their caregivers, and clinicians in Vietnam. The Open AIDS Journal. 2020: 14: 114-126. doi:

Murillo A, Bachman DeSilva M, Sabin L, Halim N, , Chemusto H, Aroda P, Gasuza J, Hamer D, Larson Williams A, Mukasa B, Messersmith L, Bonawitz R. Impact of a Maternal Prevention of Mother-to-child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) Intervention on HIV-exposed Infants in Uganda. Int J MCH AIDS. Epub 2020 Jul 29. 2020;9(3):320-329. doi: 10.21106/ijma.380. 

Sabin LL, Halim N, Hamer DH, Simmons EM, Jonnalagadda S, Larson Williams A, Chemusto H, Gifford AL, Bonawitz R, Aroda P, DeSilva M, Gasuza J, Mukasa B, Messersmith LJ. Retention in HIV Care Among HIV-Seropositive Pregnant and Postpartum Women in Uganda: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial. AIDS Behav. 2020 Apr 20. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000001616

Hartigan E, McAuley A, Keafer C, Karns A, Michaud A, BS, Lawrence M, DeSilva M. Pelvic floor muscle performance, hip mobility, and hip strength in women with and without self-reported stress urinary incontinence. Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy. June 12, 2019. https://10.1097/JWH.0000000000000141

DeSilva M, Nguyen VC, Bonawitz R, Hai LT, Lam NV, Yen LT, Gifford A, Haberer J, Linh T, Sabin L. The Supporting Adolescent Adherence in Vietnam (SAAV) study: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial assessing an mHealth approach to improving adherence for adolescents living with HIV in Vietnam. BMC Trials.  28 February 2019

Hutchinson, K, Bryant, M. Bachman DeSilva M, Price D, Sabin L, Bryson L, Jean-Charles R, DeClerc G.  Delayed access to emergency obstetrical care among preeclamptic and non-preeclamptic women in Port au Prince, Haiti: A mixed methods study. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth (2018) 18:337

Beard J, Skalicky A, Nkosi B, Zhuwau T, Cakwe M, Simon J, Quinlan T, Bachman DeSilva M. Challenges of developing a district child welfare plan in South Africa: Lessons from a community-engaged HIV/AIDS research project. Global Health Promotion. Article first published online: June 14, 2018.

Sabin L, Beard J, Agyarko-Poku T, DeSilva M, Ashigbie P, Segal T, Esang M, Asafo M, Wondergem P, Green K, Adu-Sarkodie Y.  “Too much sex and alcohol”: Beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of young men who have sex with men in Ghana. The Open AIDS Journal. 2018 Aug 31;12:69-80.

Sabin L, Mansfield L, Bachman DeSilva M, Vian T, Zhong Li Z, Xie W, Gifford A, Barnoon Y, Gill C.  Why it worked: Participants’ insights into an mHealth antiretroviral therapy adherence intervention in China. The Open AIDS Journal. 2018 Mar 12;12:20-37. doi:

Bachman Desilva M, Penwill N, Sabin L,Gifford AL, Li Z, Zhang F, Mu W, Li Y, Lu H, Zeng X, Barnoon Y, Gill CJ, Bonawitz R. “We don’t dare to tell her … we don’t know where to begin”: Disclosure experiences and challenges among HIV+ adolescents and their caregivers in China. International Journal of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. March 2018, 5(1):5-12.

Vian T, Bachman DeSilva M, Cabral HJ, Williams GC, Gifford AL, Li Z, Wubin X, Gill CJ, and Sabin L. The role of motivation and guilt in predicting ART adherence in China. Journal of Health Psychology. First published October 17, 2016.

Bachman DeSilva M, Gifford AL, Bonawitz R, Zhong L, Zhang F, Mu W, Li Y, Lu H, Zeng X, Gill CJ, Sabin LL. Real-time electronic drug monitoring (EDM) for HIV-positive adolescents: Promising acceptability and feasibility in China. Journal of AIDS and Clinical Research. January 2016. 7:586. doi:

Gill CJ, Bachman DeSilva M, Hamer DH, Xu K, Wilson IB, Sabin LL. Novel approaches for visualizing and analyzing dose-timing data from electronic drug monitors, or “How the ‘Broken Window’ theory pertains to ART adherence.” AIDS and Behavior. 2015 Nov;19(11):2057-68. doi: 10.1007/s10461-015-1065-3.

Dorji G, DeJong W, Bor J, Bachman DeSilva M, Sabin L, Feeley F,Udon P, Wangchuk N, Wangdi U, Choden T, Gurung M, Chogyel T, Wangchuk D, Kypri K. Alcohol outlet compliance with laws in a developing country: Intervention trial in the Kingdom of Bhutan. Addiction. 2015 Oct 17. doi: 10.1111/add.13202. [Epub ahead of print]

Sabin LL, Bachman DeSilva M, Gill CJ, Li Z, Xie W, Feng C, Xu K, Lan G, Haberer JE, Bangsberg DR, Li Y, Lu H, Gifford AL. Improving adherence to antiretroviral therapy with triggered real time text message reminders: the China through Technology Study (CATS). JAIDS. 2015 Aug 15;69(5):551-9. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000651.

Bachman DeSilva M, Gifford A, Xu K, Li Z, Feng C, Brooks M, Harrold M, Hu Y, Gill C, Xie W, Vian T, Haberer J, Bangsberg D, Sabin L. Feasibility and acceptability of a real-time adherence device among HIV-positive IDU patients in China. AIDS Research and Treatment, 2013:957862. doi: 10.1155/2013/957862. Epub 2013 Jul 16.

Bachman DeSilva, M., Skalicky, A., Beard, J., Cakwe, M., Zhuwau, T., Quinlan, T., & Simon, J. Household dynamics and socioeconomic conditions in the context of incident adolescent orphaning in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies, 06 Dec 2012 (epub ahead of print).

Bachman DeSilva M, Skalicky A, Beard J, Cakwe M, Zhuwau T, Quinlan, T., Simon J. Longitudinal evaluation of the psychosocial wellbeing of recent orphans compared with non-orphans in a school-attending cohort in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 2012 June. 14(3); 162-182.

Bachman DeSilva M, Skalicky A, Beard J, Cakwe M, Zhuwau T, Quinlan T, Simon J. Early impacts of orphaning: Health, nutrition, and food insecurity in a cohort of school-going adolescents in South AfricaVulnerable Children and Youth Studies. 2012; 7(1):75-87.

Sabin LL, Bachman DeSilva M, Hamer DH, Xu K, Zhang J, Li T, Wilson WB, Gill CJ. Using electronic drug monitor feedback to improve adherence to antiretroviral therapy among HIV-positive patients in China. AIDS and Behavior. 2010 June; 14 (3): 580-589.

Gill CJ, Sabin LL, Hamer DH, Xu K, Zhang J, Li T, Wu WJ, Wilson WB, Bachman DeSilva M. Importance of dose timing to achieving undetectable viral loads. AIDS and Behavior, 8 April 2009 (e-pub ahead of print).

Bachman DeSilva M, Beard J, Cakwe M, McCoy, K., Nkosi B, Parikh A, Quinlan T, Skalicky A,Tshabangu-Soko S, Zhuwau, T, Simon J. Vulnerability of orphan caregivers vs. non-orphan caregivers in KwaZulu-Natal. Journal of Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies. 2008 Aug;3(2):102-11.

Rosen S, Ketlhapile M, Sanne I, Bachman DeSilva M. Differences in normal activities, job performance and symptom prevalence between patients not yet on antiretroviral therapy and patients initiating therapy in South Africa. AIDS. 2008 Jul; 22 Suppl 1:S131-9.

Sabin LL, Bachman DeSilva M, Hamer DH, Keyi X, Yue Y, Fan W, Li T, Heggenhougen HK, Seton L, Wilson IB, Gill CJ. Barriers to adherence to antiretroviral medications among patients living with HIV in southern China: a qualitative study. AIDS Care 2008;20:1244-52.

Rosen S, Ketlhapile M, Sanne I, Bachman DeSilva M.  Characteristics of patients accessing care and treatment for HIV/AIDS at public and nongovernmental sites in South Africa Journal of the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (JIAPAC) 2008 Jul-Aug;7(4):200-7. Epub 2008 Jul 14.

Rosen S, Ketlhapile M, Sanne I, Bachman DeSilva M. Rapid improvement in normal activities, job performance, and symptom prevalence among patients initiating antiretroviral therapy in South Africa. AIDS. 2008; (suppl 1)(22):S131-39.

Connelly D, Veriava Y, Roberts S, Tsotetsi J, Jordan A, DeSilva E, Rosen S, Bachman DeSilva M (2007) Prevalence of HIV infection and median CD4 counts among healthcare workers in South Africa. South African Medical Journal. 2007 Feb;97(2):115-20.

Parikh A, Bachman DeSilva M, Cakwe M, Quinlan T, Simon J, Skalicky A, Zhuwau T. Exploring the Cinderella myth: Intra-household differences in child well-being between orphans and non-orphans living together in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. AIDS. 2007 Nov; 21 Suppl 7:S95-S103.

Rosen S, Ketlhapile M, Sanne I, Bachman DeSilva M Cost to patients of obtaining treatment for HIV/AIDS in South Africa.  S Afr Med J. 2007 Jul;97(7):524-9.