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Photo of Williams, Leslie D.

Leslie D. Williams

Assistant Professor

Community Health Sciences

Pronouns: she/her/hers


Building & Room:



1603 W. Taylor St.

Office Phone:

(312) 996-8820

Office Hours

Fall 2023 Office Hours - Virtually on Zoom, email for link
Tuesday 01:00pm – 02:00pm


Most of Dr. Leslie D. Williams' current and planned research focuses on supra-individual (i.e., setting-level and social network-level) predictors of and interventions to prevent HIV-related and substance use-related harms, and on describing and addressing disparities and inequities in HIV and substance use care access and outcomes among populations of color, populations with limited access to health services, and populations burdened by intersectional stigma (i.e., populations affected by at least two of the following types of stigma: substance use-related, HIV-related, race/ethnicity-based, justice system involvement-based, mental health-related, and gender- and/or sexuality-based). Her work has a particular focus on understanding stigma as a setting-level phenomenon, including its relationship to HIV and substance use-related outcomes, its relationship to health service and/or intervention uptake and access, and the development and evaluation of interventions to reduce and address it. In particular, Dr. Williams has a strong focus on research projects that aim a) to improve understanding of setting-level predictors (including setting-level or structural stigma) of HIV and substance use-related outcomes; and projects that aim b) to evaluate interventions that use innovative social network-based strategies to improve the reach and efficiency of HIV testing and linkage to care programs, to reduce HIV- and substance use-related stigma and improve health-related social support, and/or to reduce substance use-related harms. She has also recently begun to integrate COVID-19 related aims into work that focuses on a or b above, in order c) to understand the relationships of substance use-related and HIV-related risks, healthcare access/barriers, and outcomes to COVID-19-related risk, exposure, illness, healthcare access/barriers, and stigma.

Selected Publications

Williams, L.D., Tempalski, B., Hall, H.I., Satcher Johnson, A., Wang, G., & Friedman, S.R. (2021). Trajectories of and disparities in HIV prevalence among Black, white, and Hispanic/Latino high risk heterosexuals in 89 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas, 1992-2013. Annals of Epidemiology, 64, 140-148.

Williams, L.D., Stall, R., Tempalski, B., Jefferson, K., Smith, J.C., Ibragimov, U., Hall, H.I.,  Satcher, A., Wang, G., Purcell, D.W., Cooper, H.L.F., & Friedman, S.R. (2021). Trajectories of and disparities in HIV prevalence among Black, white, and Hispanic/Latino men who have sex with men in 89 large U.S. metropolitan statistical areas, 1992-2013. Annals of Epidemiology, 54, 52-63.

Williams, L. D., Mackesy-Amiti, M. E., Latkin, C., & Boodram, B. (2021). Drug use-related stigma, safer injection norms, and hepatitis C infection among a network-based sample of young people who inject drugs. Drug and Alcohol Dependence221, 108626.

Williams, L.D., Tempalski, B., Ibragimov, U., Stall, R., Satcher, A., Wang, G., Cooper, H.L.F., & Friedman, S.R. (2020). Trends over time in HIV prevalence among people who inject drugs in 89 large U.S. metropolitan statistical areas, 1992-2013. Annals of Epidemiology, 45, 12-23.

Williams, L. D., Aber, J. L., & SIZE Research Group. (2020). Using a multi-level framework to test empirical relationships among HIV/AIDS-related stigma, health service barriers, and HIV outcomes in South Africa. AIDS and Behavior, 24(1), 81-94.

Williams, L.D., Korobchuk, A., Smyrnov, P., Sazonova, Y., Nikolopoulos, G., Skaathun, B., Morgan, E., Schneider, J., Vasylyeva, T.I., Duong, Y.T., Chernyavska, S., Goncharov, V., Kotlik, L., & Friedman, S.R. (2019). Social network approaches to locating people recently infected with HIV in Odessa, Ukraine. Journal of the International AIDS Society, 22 (6), e25330.

Williams, L.D., Korobchuk, A., Pavlitina, E., Nikolopoulos, G., Schneider, J., Paraskevis, D. … & Friedman, S.R. (2019). Experiences of stigma and support reported by participants in a network intervention to reduce HIV transmission in Athens, Greece; Odessa, Ukraine; and Chicago, Illinois. AIDS and Behavior, 23(5), 1210-1224.

Williams, L. D. & Aber, J. L., & SIZE Research Group. (2019). The multi-level relationships of HIV-related stigma to child and caregiver mental health among HIV-affected households in South Africa. American Journal of Community Psychology, 63(1-2), 3-16.

Williams, L.D., Kostaki, E.G., Pavlitina, E., Paraskevis, D., Hatzakis, A., Schneider, J., … Nikolopoulos, G. & Friedman, S.R. (2018). Pockets of HIV non-infection within highly-infected risk networks in Athens, Greece. Frontiers in Microbiology, 9, 1825.

Vasylyeva, T. I., Zarebski, A., Smyrnov, P., Williams, L. D., Korobchuk, A., Liulchuk, M., … & Skaathun, B. (2020). Phylodynamics helps to evaluate the impact of an HIV prevention intervention. Viruses12(4), 469.


Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Intervention with a concentration in Quantitative Methodology (2014)
New York University, New York, NY

B.A. in Psychology with minor in Women's Studies (2007)
B.A. in African American and African Studies with minor in Dance (2007)
The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Research Currently in Progress

TRIPLE-SA: An Expanded Social Network Approach to Locating People who Use Drugs and Recently Infected and/or Undiagnosed Positive Cases for HIV Testing in South Africa, During the COVID-19 Pandemic
University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health
Chicago, IL
P.I. Leslie D. Williams, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator, May 2020 to present
This project will conduct a randomized trial of two versions of a social network-based intervention that will circumvent stigma-related barriers to increase HIV testing and care linkage among Black men, people who use drugs, and people with recent HIV infection in socioeconomically disadvantaged settings in South Africa. It will also collect data from participants on COVID-19 experiences, exposure (i.e., antibody testing), prevention, service/care access, testing access, and stigma.


Developing a Public Health Measure of Built Environment to Assess Risk of Nonmedical Opioid Use and Related Mortality in Urban and Non-Urban Areas in NJ
University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health
Chicago, IL
P.I. Barbara Tempalski, Ph.D.
Co-Investigator, May 2020 to present
This project will use secondary data on municipality-level characteristics to develop and validate a geographic information system-integrated built environment measure of opioid overdose for use in rural, suburban, and urban settings. This project integrates secondary data on NJ municipalities from over 40 sources. It expands conceptualization of the built environment to newly include features of non-urban settings, and social features of settings.