Karina Villalba received her Ph.D. in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention from Florida International University at Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work. She is a biobehavioral scientist with a broad understanding and training in basic and behavioral sciences. Her research focuses on HIV prevention and associated comorbidities such as substance use, prevention intervention development to improve sexual health, coping with trauma, and genetic and social environmental factors in neurocognition that may moderate the effectiveness of prevention and treatment strategies. Dr. Villalba has contributed or led research efforts to adapt and evaluate theoretically and evidence-based interventions for underserved and understudied populations particularly burdened by HIV health disparities, including disproportionate problems with substance use, mental health, and exposure to trauma and violence.


Dr. Villalba joined the UCF College of Medicine in 2020 as a tenure-track Assistant Professor at the Population Health Sciences Department with a joint appointment in the Violence Against Women Faculty Cluster. Her primary responsibilities are to conduct scholarly research, provide mentoring, and provide service to the institution. Dr. Villalba has extensive training in clinical and behavioral research in the areas of HIV prevention and prevention intervention development to improve sexual health with a focus on underserved and understudied populations disproportionately affected with substance use, mental health problems, and exposure to trauma and violenceHer goal is to develop evidence-based bio-behavioral interventions that can adapt to real-world settings to improve women’s health.


Recent Publications:

Peer Reviewed:

  • Fava NM, Sanchez M, Ravelo G, Villalba K, Wuyke G, Rojas P. (2019) Sexual trauma and wellbeing among Latinas: the moderating role of gender norms. Journal of Traumatic Stress.
  • Villalba K, Cook C, Dévieux JG, Ibanez GE, Oghogho E, Neira C, Cook RL. (2019). Facilitators and barriers to a contingency management alcohol intervention involving a transdermal alcohol sensor. Heliyon.
  • Villalba K, Sanchez M, Ravelo G, Wuyke G, Rojas P (2019). Intimate partner violence and self-silencing: short report from a south Florida semi-rural community. Violence Against Women
  • Attonito J, Villalba K, Rosenberg R, Jean-Gilles M, Dévieux JG. (2019) Effectiveness of an evidence-based intervention in improving treatment adherence, service utilization and viral load among HIV-seropositive adult alcohol users. AIDS and Behavior. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Villalba K, Ramírez-Ortiz D, Dévieux JG, Attonito J, Rojas P. (2018) Gender Role Attitudes Among Latinas: Empowering Women. World Medical & Health Policy 10(4), 12-18
  • Villalba K, Dévieux JG, and Cadet JL (2016) Serotonin-Related Gene Polymorphisms and Asymptomatic Neurocognitive Impairment in HIV-infected Alcohol Abusers. Genet Res Int: 23(1) 1-7.
  • Villalba K, Dévieux JG, and Cadet JL (2016) DRD2 and DRD4 Genes Related to Cognitive Deficits in HIV-infected Adults who Abuse Alcohol. Behav Brain Funct. doi: 10.1186/s12993-015-0072-x
  • Villalba K, Attonito J, Mendy A, Gasana J, Dévieux JG, and Dorak MT (2015) A Meta-Analysis of the Association Between SLC6A4 Promoter Polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) with Risk of Alcohol Dependence. Psychiatr Genet. 25(2):47-58.
  • Malow R, Dévieux JG, Stein JA, Rosenberg R, Lerner BG, Attonito J, Villalba K (2012) neurological function information-motivation-behavioral skills factors and risk behaviors among hiv-positive alcohol abusers. AIDS and Behavior. 16:8, 2297-2308.
  • Villalba K, Attonito J, Jean-Gilles M, Rosenberg R, Sanchez M. Dévieux JG. (2019). The effects of childhood abuse: the role of anxiety and alcohol use among Haitian women living with HIV Archives of Sexual Behavior.