About Us

Today’s rural communities, despite their stereotypical “safe” image, are not immune from many of the problems of urban areas, such as unprotected sexual behavior, drug and alcohol abuse, and diseases such as human immunodeficiency infection, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and other sexually transmitted diseases. The spread of HIV and other STDs to rural areas of the United States is an important threat to public health. Multiple factors, such as stigma, denial and isolation, contribute to the challenge of HIV/STD prevention in rural communities.

Mission of the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention

Founded in 1994, the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention (RCAP) promotes HIV/STD prevention in rural America to reduce HIV/STD prevalance. A joint project of Indiana University, University of Arizona, and the University of Kentucky, RCAP is headquartered at Indiana University. RCAP:

  • provides current prevention resources to professionals and the public
  • develops and evaluates educational materials and approaches to rural HIV/STD prevention
  • shares strategies that might work to overcome behavioral and social barriers related to rural HIV/STD prevention

The Directors of the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention (RCAP)

Faculty members from Indiana University, University of Colorado, Denver and University of Kentucky, Lexington, direct RCAP. The directors have extensive background in HIV/STD curriculum development and evaluation, prevention programming, basic and applied research, public service and patient care. Research assistants and graduate students from each university also participate in RCAP projects.

Senior Director

William L. Yarber, H.S.D., Indiana University
Dr. Yarber is professor of applied health science, professor of gender studies, and senior research fellow at The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University, Bloomington. Besides having published numerous scientific studies in professional journals, he has authored four school AIDS/STD curricula, including the nation’s first school AIDS curriculum. His research has focused on examining HIV/STD risk behavior, particularly among youth and rural populations. Dr. Yarber has been the principal investigator for several extramural awards for his research and curriculum development.


Janet N. Arno, M.D., Indiana University
Dr. Arno is medical director of the Bell Flower Clinic of the Marion County Health Department (Indianapolis, IN) and clinical associate professor in the division of infectious diseases at the Indiana University Medical School, Indianapolis. She specializes in infectious diseases with a research focus on STD immunology. As a physician she has cared for AIDS patients since 1982. She has numerous AIDS/STD publications and extramural support awards. Dr. Arno was a member of the Cleveland AIDS Task Force where she worked with teachers in AIDS education program development.

Anne M. Bowen, PhD, University of Arizona, Tucson
Dr. Bowen is currently a professor of Psychology at the U of A. She recently moved from the U. of Wyoming where she was a professor in the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing and Director of the Nightingale Center for Nursing Scholarship. She is a licensed clinical psychologist with interesting in Health Promotion and interventions for people with chronic illness. Her research focuses on reducing risks for acquiring and transmitting the HIV virus. She is especially interested in developing interventions for rural people. She developed an Internet intervention for rural MSM with exciting results and is currently developing an Internet intervention to reduce minority stress resulting from stigma among rural men who have sex with men. The intervention will be innovative in that the approach utilizes empathic Avatar’s to deliver an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy based intervention to help men live the life they want to live. She has just completed a qualitative study with rural methamphetamine users in Wyoming. She is also engaged in cross cultural work and developing HIV risk reduction interventions for urban drug users in Tanzania. Finally, she has mentored graduate students on projects examining HPV vaccine acceptance, women screening for breast and cervical cancer, and factors affecting rural peoples’ use of the internet to obtain health information.

Richard A. Crosby, Ph.D., University of Kentucky, Lexington
Richard A. Crosby, Ph.D., is he DDI Endowed Professor and Chair of health behavior in the College of Public Health at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. Dr. Crosby has published extensively in the area of HIV/STD risk behavior, including studies of rural populations. He has developed and tested a condom use promotion program (known as Focus on the Future) which is now classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an evidence-based intervention. He has edited and authored multiple college textbooks on health behavior theory and research methods. He is also a recipient of research awards from the National Institutes of Health to study condom effectiveness against non-viral sexually transmitted infections and to test a brief, clinic-based, HIV prevention designed for young African American males. He is also funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate barriers to HPV vaccination and develop social marketing programs to promote vaccine uptake.

Susan L. Dreisbach, Ph.D., University of Colorado, Denver(Emeritus)
Dr. Dreisbach is assistant professor in health and behavioral science at the University of Colorado, Denver. Her research has focused on HIV/AIDS risk behaviors and the context in which they occur among methamphetamine users in rural communities and among adolescents in various settings. As a Social Science Research Council Sexuality Fellow, Dr. Dreisbach is investigating how multiple cultures simultaneously influence sexual behaviors and HIV/AIDS risk among Latino/a adolescents.

Beth Meyerson, MDiv, PhD, Indiana University
Dr. Meyerson became an assistant professor of health policy & management in the Department of Applied Health Science, Indiana University, Bloomington, in the fall 2011. Dr. Meyerson comes to IU after directing Policy Resource Group, LLC, an Indianapolis firm specializing in health policy research and strategy with domestic and international emphasis. Her work is informed by public health service as the AIDS/STD Director for the state of Missouri and through years of work in private and no-profit sectors in St. Louis, Indianapolis, St. Petersburg, Ann Arbor, and Boston. Dr. Meyerson has worked in Kenya, Nigeria, Botswana, India, Russia and throughout the Caribbean. Her most recent research appears in Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Public Health Reports, The American Journal of Public Health, and The Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. Her most recent book (2008) is Ready to Go: The History and Contributions of U.S. Public Health Advisors. Beth’s research interests include the structural barriers to health or disease prevention, health policy capacities in communities and among health professionals, and social constructions of and by health policy target populations.

Mohammad R. Torabi, Ph.D., M.P.H., Indiana University
Dr. Torabi is Chancellors’ Professor of Health Education and dean of the School of Public Health at Indiana University, Bloomington. His research focus has been in measurement and evaluation of school and public health education programs and factors related to individuals’ decisions in the prevention of HIV/AIDS infection, drug abuse, cancer, and tobacco.

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Special Assistant to the Senior Director

Jeanne White Ginder, mother of Ryan White, was been appointed on April 8, 2010 by the RCAP directors as a Special Advisor to the Senior Director. Jeanne will assist RCAP in specific projects, particularly those dealing with HIV/STD education for youth. Since Ryan’s death in 1990, Jeanne has been a spokesperson for AIDS education and the rights of people with AIDS. She travels the country and the world speaking to groups and has worked with Congress for the creation and continuation of the “Ryan White Care Act.”

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Research Fellows

Cynthia Graham, Ph.D., is currently a Research Tutor on the University of Oxford Doctoral Course in Clinical Psychology. She obtained her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at McGill University and previous appointments include: Director of Graduate Education at The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, Clinical Professor in the Department of Gender Studies at Indiana University , and Research Psychologist at the MRC Reproductive Biology Unit in Edinburgh . Her research interests are sexual behavior, HIV/STD-related risk behavior, reproductive hormones, and gender differences in sexual behavior. She has conducted research on psychophysiological sexual response patterns; condom errors and problems; the effects of oral contraceptives on mood and sexuality in women; the relationship between the menstrual cycle and changes in mood and sexuality; menstrual synchrony; and methodological issues involved in recall data on sexual behavior.

Timothy G . Heckman, Ph.D., is an research professor of psychology at Ohio University, specializing in experimental health psychology. His recent research has focused primarily on the mental health needs of rural people living with HIV/AIDS. Dr. Heckman is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health to evaluate the efficacy of a telephone-delivered, coping improvement group intervention for HIV-infected persons living in rural areas and to investigate patterns and predictors of suicidal thoughts among HIV-infected rural residents.

Bronwen Lichtenstein, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of the Department of Criminal Justice. She gained her Ph.D. in sociology from The University of Canterbury, New Zealand, in 1996. Since immigrating to the United States , she has engaged in teaching, research and writing on sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS the Deep South. In particular, she has focused on women’s and minority issues in relation to HIV/AIDS, and on stigma as a barrier to STI treatment and screening in the rural south. Dr. Lichtenstein has received NIH funding for studies on stigma and STIs and domestic violence and HIV risk among rural women. She is a member of the Governor of Alabama’s AIDS Commission for Children, Youth and Adults and the Sociologists’ AIDS Network.

Leandro Antonio Mena, M.D., M.P.H. is an Associate Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases, at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. He earned his medical degree from the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Urena in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and his MPH from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Mena is a physician with specialty training in infectious diseases. He has more than 12 years of experience in clinical and epidemiological research in the area of sexually transmitted infections (including HIV), with special interest in the dynamics of transmission and the role that social determinants of health play in perpetuating these epidemics in sexual and gender minority populations. Dr. Mena currently supervises a research team with 10 members dedicated to clinical and epidemiologic research, and serves as the medical director of the Crossroads Clinic (STD/HIV clinic in Jackson, Mississippi), the only publicly funded exclusive STD/HIV clinic in the state, and Open Arms Healthcare Center, a community based clinic that offers primary care services with an emphasis in the health care needs LGBTI populations in Jackson. MS.

Robin Milhausen is an associate professor in Human Sexuality and Family Relations in the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, at the University of Guelph, in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Dr. Milhausen earned her PhD at Indiana University in the Department of Applied Health Science, while working as a research assistant at the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention. Dr. Milhausen’s research interests include: sexual risk-taking among rural youth, condom use errors and problems, sexual arousal and the experience of sexual problems, and gender differences in sexual attitudes and behaviors. Current research projects include: gender differences in desired partner characteristics; sexual arousal and sexual and relationship satisfaction; sexual arousal, condom use errors and problems and sexual risk-taking; scale development and validation.

Dr. Seth M. Noar is an Associate Professor and Full Member of the graduate faculty in the Department of Communication at the University of Kentucky. His research interests focus on health promotion and disease prevention from a health communication perspective, and are mostly concentrated in the area of HIV prevention and safer sexual behavior. His research articles address health behavior theories, sexual communication, safer sex messages, media campaigns and interventions, and methodological topics including meta-analysis. Dr. Noar currently works on HIV prevention projects funded by both the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His work has appeared in a wide range of journals and books in the social, behavioral, health, and communication sciences. He also recently co-edited “Communication Perspectives on HIV/AIDS for the 21st Century,” published by Lawrence Erlbaum in 2008.

Stephanie A. Sanders, Ph.D., is Associate Director of The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, Professor of Gender Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington. A biopsychologist by training, she has conducted research on sexual behavior patterns related to risk for sexually transmitted infections; condom use errors and problems; sexual orientation and sexual behavior; sexual arousal in women; sex/gender differences in behavior; sex hormones and behavior; the effects of prenatal exposures to drugs and hormones on behavioral, cognitive and social development; and women’s menstrual cycling. She has experience writing and conducting grants funded by NICHD, NIDA, NIMH, and private funding agencies. She is a PI for NIH award, Barriers to Correct Condom Use (R21 HD060447-01), which aims to advance understanding of, among other factors, the role of cognitive and affective processes and condom application skills in explaining problems with condom use, particularly condom-associated erection problems (CAEP), in young, heterosexual adult men.

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Research Associates

Greg Carter, MSN RN CNS, is currently a first year Ph.D. student of Clinical Nursing Science through the School of Nursing at Indiana University. His focus of research is how stigma impacts sexually transmitted infection screening in the gay college aged male population. He has worked in the post anesthesia care unit at IU Health Bloomington Hospital for the past six years, and is currently a part time faculty member in the Indiana University School of Nursing. Mr. Carter’s current research interest include sexual risk taking among college aged gay males, the impact of perceived/received stigma on sexually transmitted infection screening, and barriers to health care access among gay males. He is a member of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association and the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists.

Alissa Davis, MA, is a second year PhD student in the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at Indiana University. Her research interests include the social epidemiology of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS. She is particularly interested in health disparities research among vulnerable populations, such as ethnic minorities, migrants, and economically disadvantaged populations. Prior to coming to Indiana University, Alissa pursued an MA in International Relations and interned with the International Organization for Migration and with a non-profit organization in Astrakhan, Russia, that worked with human trafficking victims and street children. Alissa’s dissertation research will be focused on assessing barriers to health care utilization and evaluating the acceptability and feasibility of HIV/Syphilis rapid point-of-care tests among female Uyghur migrants in Guangzhou, China.

Bobbie Emetu, MLS is a second year Ph.D student of Health Behavior and is also pursuing an MPH in Behavioral, Social and Community Health through the department of Applied Health Science at Indiana University. Her research focus is in sexual transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS risk behaviors predominately among college-aged individuals and men who have sex with men (MSM). Prior to pursuing her doctorate at Indiana University, she has worked as a Research Analyst conducting evaluative and summative research for a federal funded initiative and spent several years as an HIV counselor. Bobbie’s research interests also include condom use errors and application, innovative methods for STI testing, HIV-related stigma, and the association between sexual abuse and sexual risk behaviors. Bobbie continues to pursue applied research within the areas of health education, disease prevention, and sexual health with the goal of contributing to multidisciplinary strategies for improving public health-related problems in this field.

Megan Simmons, MPH is a first year doctoral student of Health Behaviors and an Associate Instructor in the department of Applied Health Science at Indiana University. Her research focus is in sexual negotiation, condom and contraceptive use, and pleasure-seeking in individuals aged 18-30. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D. at Indiana University, Megan worked as a Research Assistant for the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the University of Missouri’s Institute of Public Policy. Megan is pursuing applied research in public health, harm-reduction, and health education and in order to promote relationship communication and inform evidence-based sexual health interventions.

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Research Assistants

Christiana von Hippel is a first year MPH student in Behavioral, Social and Community Health at Indiana University. Her aim with all her contributions as a student and professional is to help advance sexual health communication and public health practice in the United States. She comes to IU with a BA in Psychology and the Study of Women & Gender from Smith College where she helped develop the college’s first course on women’s sexuality and launched the first research-based campaign for student sexual health and pleasure on campus entitled “Sexual Smithies, Pleasure is Power.” As a current MPH student and future doctoral student she will continue to pursue research on sexual health communication and pleasure with a focus on teens just beginning their education in sexual health as well as among senior women with a wizened perspective on sexual health across the life course to bridge the gap between scholarship and practice of sexual health promotion yet unaddressed in these communities.

Advisory Committee

Michael R. Covone, MSW, MPH
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
Anchorage, AK

Ralph DiClemente, PhD
Emory/Atlanta Center for AIDS Research
Atlanta, GA

Lynne Greabell, MAA
National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors Washington, DC

Timothy Heckman, PhD
Ohio University
Athens, OH

Lisa Kramer, BA
Idaho Division of Health
Boise, ID

Ingrid McDowell, MSCJ
National Minority AIDS Council
Washington, DC

Alan Morgan, MPA
National Rural Health Association
Washington, DC

Frank J. Oldham, Jr.
National Association of People with AIDS Silver Spring, MD

Michelle Sabori, MBA
Inter Tribal Council of America, Inc.
Phoenix, AZ

Ronald J. Weatherford, M Div
Nia’s Ark, Inc.
High Point, NC

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The Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention (RCAP) is based in the Department of Applied Health Science in the School of Public Health at Indiana University, Bloomington. RCAP is supported, in part, through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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