Dr. Richard Lessells

Completed a Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Fellowship and PhD at LSHTM, U.K. Clinical Infectious Diseases Specialist with interests in HIV & TB drug resistance, epidemiology and clinical management

Contact Details:

Email: rjlessells@gmail.com

Telephone: +27 31 260 4898


I am a Clinical Research PhD Graduate from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and am currently based at the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies. I was funded by a fellowship from the Wellcome Trust and my research is focused on evaluation of TB and HIV diagnostics, with a particular interest in drug resistance.


Group Leader: KRISP - KwaZulu-Natal Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform, UKZN, Durban, South Africa.

Associate: Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa Advanced Clinical Care (CAPRISA ACC), Durban, South Africa.

Associate: Infectious Diseases Department, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, UKZN, Durban, South Africa.

Open access pdf Publications

Spatial clustering of drug-resistant tuberculosis in Hlabisa subdistrict, KwaZulu-Natal, 2011-2015.
Smith CM, Lessells R, Grant AD, Herbst K, Tanser F, Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. (2018), 1;22(3):287-293. doi: 10.5588/ijtld.17.0457:.

Tuberculosis mortality and the male survival deficit in rural South Africa: An observational community cohort study.
Reniers G, Blom S, Lieber J, Herbst AJ, Calvert C, Bor J, Barnighausen T, Zaba B, Li ZR, Clark SJ, Grant AD, Lessells R, Eaton JW, Hosegood V, PLoS ONE (2017), 12(10):e0185692. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185692:.

HIV assessment and testing for hospital in-patients: still a weak link in the cascade.
Iwuji CC, Lessells RJ, Public Health Action (2017), 21;7(4):243. doi: 10.5588/pha.17.0111:.

Impact of point-of-care Xpert MTB/RIF on tuberculosis treatment initiation: a cluster randomised trial.
Lessells RJ, Cooke GS, McGrath N, Nicol MP, Newell ML, Godfrey-Faussett P, Am J Respir Crit Care Med (2017), :doi: 10.1164/rccm.201702-0278OC.

HIV drug resistance levels in adults failing first-line antiretroviral therapy in an urban and a rural setting in South Africa.
Rossouw TM, Nieuwoudt M, Manasa J, Malherbe G, Lessells RJ, Pillay S, Danaviah S, Mahasha P, van Dyk G, de Oliveira T, HIV Med. (2017), 2016 :doi: 10.1111/hiv.12400.

Increasing HIV-1 drug resistance between 2010 and 2012 in adults participating in population-based HIV surveillance in rural KwaZulu-Natal South Africa.
Manasa J, Danaviah S, Lessells RJ, Elshareef M, Tanser F, Wilkinson E, Pillay S, Mthiyane H, Mwambi H, Pillay D, de Oliveira T, AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses (2016), 32(8):763-769.

Understanding Specific Contexts of Antiretroviral Therapy Adherence in Rural South Africa: A Thematic Analysis of Digital Stories from a Community with High HIV Prevalence.
Treffry-Goatley A, Lessells R, Sykes P, Barnighausen T, de Oliveira T, Moletsane R, Seeley J., PLoS One (2016), 11(2):doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0148801.

HIV treatment cascade in tuberculosis patients.
Lessells RJ, Swaminathan S, Godfrey-Faussett P, Curr Opin HIV AIDS (2015), 10(6):439-46. doi: 10.1097/COH.0000000000000197:.

Implementing antiretroviral resistance testing in a primary health care HIV treatment programme in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: early experiences, achievements and challenges.
Lessells RJ, Stott KE, Manasa J, Naidu KK, Skingsley A, Rossouw T, de Oliveira T, BMC Health Services Research (2014), 14:116:doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-116.

Southern African Treatment Resistance Network (SATuRN) RegaDB HIV drug resistance and clinical management database: supporting patient management, surveillance and research in southern Africa.
Manasa J, Lessells R, Rossouw T, Naidu K, Van Vuuren C, Goedhals D, van Zyl G, Bester A, Skingsley A, Stott K, de Oliveira T, Database (Oxford) (2014), Vol. 2014 :bat082. doi: 10.1093/database/bat082.

Drug resistance in children at virological failure in a rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, cohort.
Pillay S, Bland RM, Lessells RJ, Manasa J, de Oliveira T, Danaviah S., AIDS Res Ther. (2014), 11(1):3. doi: 10.1186/1742-6405-11-3.

Implementing HIV-1 Genotypic Resistance Testing in Antiretroviral Therapy Programs in Africa: Needs, Opportunities, and Challenges.
Lessells RJ, Avalos A, de Oliveira T, AIDS Reviews (2013), 15:221-229.

Combined antiretroviral and antituberculosis drug resistance following incarceration.
Stott KE, de Oliveira T, Lessells RJ, S Afr J HIV Med (2013), 14(3):135-137.

High-Levels of Acquired Drug Resistance in Adult Patients Failing First-Line Antiretroviral Therapy in a Rural HIV Treatment Programme in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Manasa J, Lessells RJ, Skingsley A, Naidu KK, Newell M-L, McGrath N, de Oliveira T, PLoS One (2013), 8(8):e72152.

HIV & TB Drug Resistance & Clinical Management Case Book.
Rossouw T, Lessells RJ, de Oliveira T, South African Medical Research Council Press (2013), ISBN 978-1-920014-91-9:.

Are subtype differences important in HIV drug resistance?.
Lessells RJ, Katzenstein DK, de Oliveira T, Current Opinion Virology (2012), 2(5):636-43.

Gender Differences in Survival among Adult Patients Starting Antiretroviral Therapy in South Africa: A Multicentre Cohort Study.
Cornell M, Schomaker M, Garone DB, Giddy J, Hoffmann CJ, Lessells R, Maskew M, Prozesky H, Wood R, Johnson LF, Egger M, Boulle A, Myer L For IeDEA-SA, PLoS Medicine (2012), 9(9):e1001304.

Cohort profile: Hlabisa HIV Treatment and Care Programme.
Houlihan C, Bland R, Mutevedzi P, Lessells R, Ndirangu J, Thulare H, Newell ML, Int J Epidemiol (2011), 40:318-26.

Retention in HIV care for individuals not yet eligible for antiretroviral therapy: rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Lessells RJ, Mutevedzi PC, Cooke GS, Newell ML., J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr (2011), 56(3):e79-86.

Association of age with mortality and virological and immunological response to antiretroviral therapy in rural South African adults.
Mutevedzi PC, Lessells RJ, Rodger AJ, Newell ML, PLoS ONE (2011), 6(7):e21795.

Poor long-term outcomes for cryptococcal meningitis in rural South Africa.
Lessells RJ, Mutevedzi PC, Heller T, Newell ML, S Afr Med (2011), 101:251-2.

International spread of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis from Tugela Ferry, South Africa.
Cooke GS, Beaton RK, Lessells RJ, John L, Ashworth S, Kon OM, Williams OM, Supply P, Moodley P, Pym AS, Emerg Infect Dis (2011), 17:2035-2037.

Evaluation of tuberculosis diagnostics: establishing an evidence base around the public health impact.
Lessells RJ, Cooke GS, Newell ML, Godfrey-Faussett P, J Infect Dis (2011), 204:S1187-95.

Community-based treatment for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Heller T, Lessells RJ, Wallrauch C, Barnighausen T, Cooke GS, Mhlongo L, Master I, Newell ML, Int J TB Lung Dis (2010), 14:420-426.

The TB challenge in a rural South African HIV programme.
Houlihan C, Mutevedzi P, Lessells R, Cooke G, Tanser F, Newell ML, BMC Infect Dis (2010), 10:23.

Scale-up of a decentralised HIV treatment programme in rural KwaZulu- Natal, South Africa: does rapid expansion affect patient outcomes?.
Mutevedzi P, Lessells RJ, Heller T, Barnighausen T, Cooke G, Newell ML, Bull WHO (2010), 88:593-600.

HIV and hepatitis B co-infection in Africa.
Lessells RJ, Main J, Cooke GS, Lancet Infectious Diseases (2008), 8:210-11.

Effect of the HIV epidemic on liver cancer in Africa.
Lessells RJ, Cooke GS, Lancet (2008), 371:1504.

Management of hepatitis B co-infection in human immunodeficiency virus infected subjects.
Lessells R, Leen CLS, Eur J Clin Micro ID (2004), 23(5):366-374.

bioafrica - Blogs from Bioafrica and SATuRN websitesbioafrica - Blogs from Bioafrica and SATuRN websitesbioafrica - Blogs from Bioafrica and SATuRN websitesbioafrica - Blogs from Bioafrica and SATuRN websitesbioafrica - Blogs from Bioafrica and SATuRN websites
Blogs Blogs Description & Link

bioafrica - Blogs from Bioafrica and SATuRN websites

Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis in South Africa: are we now dealing with untreatable strains?

Author: Richard Lessells - 2013-02-22

The search for a new TB vaccine - a step forward or backward?

Author: Richard Lessells - 2013-02-21

More follow-up data on phase 2 trial of bedaquiline (TMC-207)

Author: Richard Lessells - 2012-03-15

Drug resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis: do sputum specimens tell us everything?

Author: Richard Lessells - 2012-03-14

Drug-resistant tuberculosis in Swaziland: a concern for us all

Author: Richard Lessells - 2012-01-24

'Totally drug-resistant' tuberculosis in India: should we be worried?

Author: Richard Lessells - 2012-01-23

bioafrica - News Section from Bioafrica and SATuRN websitesbioafrica - News Section from Bioafrica and SATuRN websitesbioafrica - News Section from Bioafrica and SATuRN websitesbioafrica - News Section from Bioafrica and SATuRN websitesbioafrica - News Section from Bioafrica and SATuRN websitesbioafrica - News Section from Bioafrica and SATuRN websitesbioafrica - News Section from Bioafrica and SATuRN websitesbioafrica - News Section from Bioafrica and SATuRN websitesbioafrica - News Section from Bioafrica and SATuRN websitesbioafrica - News Section from Bioafrica and SATuRN websitesbioafrica - News Section from Bioafrica and SATuRN websitesbioafrica - News Section from Bioafrica and SATuRN websitesbioafrica - News Section from Bioafrica and SATuRN websitesbioafrica - News Section from Bioafrica and SATuRN websitesbioafrica - News Section from Bioafrica and SATuRN websitesbioafrica - News Section from Bioafrica and SATuRN websitesbioafrica - News Section from Bioafrica and SATuRN websites
News News Description and Link

bioafrica - News Section from Bioafrica and SATuRN websites

KRISP Training

11th Annual Workshop on Advanced Clinical Care - AIDS (AWACC), Durban, South Africa, 6-7 Sep 2017

KRISP Training - 2017-09-06

The workshop is targeted at 400 clinicians, clinical virologists and nurses working in the public sector who are currently involved in the treatment of patients with HIV and TB in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.


KwaZulu-Natal Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform (KRISP) Established

KRISP News - 2017-07-12

The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and UKZN have signed an agreement for the establishment of KRISP - the KwaZulu-Natal Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform.


10th Annual Workshop on Advanced Clinical Care - AIDS (AWACC)

AWACC - 2016-10-06

This AWACC annual workshop is in the 10th edition and it is organized as a joint effort of the Centre for AIDS research (CFAR) of Harvard Medical School, SATuRN, CAPRISA, UKZN and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health. AWACC objecitve is to translate the latest evidence-based research and apply best practice models of care into good clinical practice, specifically for resource constrained areas.

Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine

BOOK REVIEW - HIV & TB Drug Resistance & Clinical Management Case Book

Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine - 2013-06-20

by Sigaloff & Hamers, The Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine, Book Review on the HIV & TB Drug Resistance & Clinical Management Case Book by Rossouw, Lessells and de Oliveira

University of Pretoria

University of Pretoria and partners launch a book

University of Pretoria - 2013-03-19

By Sanku Tsunke, Pretoria, 19 March 2013. Drug resistance is one of the main challenges confronting HIV and TB programmes in Africa. Facing these challenges requires an understanding of how drug resistance develops, as well as up-to-date knowledge of how to diagnose and manage drug resistance in HIV and TB patients.


Casebook aims to curb drug resistance

PretoriaNews - 2013-03-19

Pretoria News - 19 March 2013, DOCTORS from the University of Pretoria (UP) and University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) have stepped up to the challenge of providing a clinical management casebook for health care workers treating patients with HIV and TB drug resistance.



UKZNonline - 2013-03-16

HIV and TB: Drug Resistance and Clinical Management Case Book - a book co-authored by two academics from the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies - has been presented to frontline health workers at a workshop in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Universiteit van Pretoria

Universiteit van Pretoria en vennote stel boek vry oor weerstand teen middels wat gebruik word om MIV en tuberkulose te bekamp

Universiteit van Pretoria - 2013-03-15

Weerstand teen medikasie is een van die belangrikste struikelblokke wat programme om MIV en tuberkulose in Afrika te bestry te bowe moet kom. Om hierdie uitdagings die hoof te bied, word 'n begrip vereis van hoe weerstand teen die middels tot stand kom, sowel as vertroudheid met die jongste metodes om weerstand teen die medikasie in MIV- en tuberkulosepasiente te diagnoseer en bestuur.

University of Pretoria

Invitation to the launch of the HIV and TB drug resistance & clinical management case book

University of Pretoria - 2013-03-05

University of Pretoria invites you to attend the launch of the publication HIV and TB resistance & clinical management case book. The invitation is writen in three official South African languages: Afrikaans, English and Sepedi.


HIV/TB Drug Resistance and Clinical Management Workshop & Book Launch, Ghost Mountain Inn, Mkuze, South Africa, 7-8 Mar 2013

SATuRN - 2013-02-18

Organised by the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies and Southern African Treatment and Resistance Network (SATuRN) in collaboration with the uMkhanyakude District Health Office. This workshop is aimed at developing knowledge and skills around the prevention and management of drug resistance and treatment failure in both HIV and TB.

MIT Technology review

The Machine That Will Help End TB

MIT Technology review - 2012-12-11

By Jon Cohen on December 11, 2012 - Nearly 1.5 million people die from tuberculosis every year, even though most cases can be cured with routine antibiotic treatments. One country's fight to get the ancient scourge under control has an unlikely hero: a simple diagnostic test.

The Communication Initiative Network

Comminit News: Scientific Community Engagement Activities in Rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

The Communication Initiative Network - 2012-11-30

BioAfrica, Southern African Treatment and Resistance Network (SATuRN), and the Africa Centre Bioinformatics Unit use art to present scientific facts in Rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. They are involved in many community engagement activities, presenting to African communities about the origin of HIV, the causes and consequences of drug resistance development, and how to successfully manage HIV and tuberculosis (TB) treatment.

TB Union

SATuRN at the 43rd Union World Conference on Lung Health

TB Union - 2012-11-20

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, 14-17 Nov 2012, SATuRN researchers Dr. Richard Lessells and Dr. Tulio de Oliveira had a very successful TB conference. In this post we cover their presentations, workshops participation and tweeter coverage.

International Innovation

Dissecting diagnostics - TB drug resistance in rural South Africa

International Innovation - 2012-09-20

Researchers based in northern KwaZulu-Natal in rural South Africa are exploring the impact of novel molecular tuberculosis diagnostic system on clinical outcomes for patients with multidrug-resistance TB.


SATuRN's tweet coverage about drug resistance at the 3rd SA TB conference

SATuRN - 2012-06-15

We participated, presented and tweeted about the 3rd South African TB conference, 12-15 June 2012, ICC, Durban. We had covered all the sessions that present TB drug resistance results. Please find below our tweets from our participation in our national TB conference.


BioAfrica Art & Science section is open!

BioAfrica - 2012-05-10

In this exciting new section of bioafrica.net art we feature creative projects that celebrate, investigate and/or communicate biomedical science. Here, we share blogs, news articles, tweets, audio and audiovisual media to increase public awareness of innovative collaborations between art and science.


SATuRN Newsletter Vol. 1 Number 1, Jan-Mar 2012

BioAfrica - 2012-04-15

The newsletter idea is that anyone with 15 minutes to spare can learn about our work and its application in everyday life.


New and interactive section of BioAfrica and SATuRN website

BioAfrica - 2012-01-14

One of our main aims for this development is for users and collaborators to become more involved in the website. It has added over 100 new webpages to bioafrica.net, including blogs, open access publications, media coverage, clinical cases tutorials and twitter. It has also increased the number of people collaborating in the development of our website!

Page design updated by Prof. Tulio de Oliveira, 2015