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Andrea Knittel, MD, PhD, won the James W. Woods Junior Faculty Award for her research on women’s health and the criminal justice system.

Andrea Knittel, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the UNC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and program director for Incarcerated Women’s Health, was selected as this year’s recipient of the James W. Woods Junior Faculty Award, which supports research and scholarship of young faculty at the UNC School of Medicine.

Dr. Knittel completed her fellowship in general obstetrics and gynecology in 2018 and joined the faculty of the division of general obstetrics and gynecology that same year. Her practice includes office gynecology, gynecologic surgery, prenatal care, and labor and delivery. Her research and clinical work have a special focus on reproductive transitions for women involved in the criminal justice system. Her commentary in the North Carolina Medical Journal titled “Resolving Health Disparities for Women Involved in the Criminal Justice System” was published in late 2019 and is available here.

Dr. Knittel has significantly contributed to the medical literature demonstrating that involvement in the criminal justice system is a risk factor for sexual risk behaviors and sexually transmitted diseases. She has demonstrated that incarceration is associated with a subsequent increase in the number of sexual partners for men, and she built on these findings to show that relationship disruption and changes in desirability of men as partners after incarceration could explain differences in community-level risk behavior seen in communities with high rates of male incarceration.

During her research, Dr. Knittel also used a unique cross-sectional data set of women who use drugs to show that for women, probation and jail incarceration are associated with increased numbers of sexual partners and concurrent sexual partnerships and that the interconnectedness of sex exchange, drug use, and criminal justice involvement results in increased risk for sexually transmitted infections.

She is currently focused on incarceration and substance use in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), a longitudinal multi-site cohort study of women living with HIV and at risk for HIV.