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 prevalence. RCAP is headquartered at Indiana University in the Department of Applied Health Science, School of Public Health – Bloomington. RCAP:

  • provide current prevention resources to professionals and the public
  • develops and evalutes 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)

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.

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.

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."

  • RCAP Post-doctorate Fellow

    Carrie Lawrence, is a practitioner-academic and public health advocate with several years of practice experience in nonprofit and social services. Her applied research examines addressing social justice, health disparities and inequalities by empowering communities to collectively act upon their own health priorities, inform program and intervention design and development as well as health policy and system transformation. Dr. Lawrence has initiated several community-based participatory and translational research projects employing multiple methods that engage and empower community members in identifying, leveraging and sustaining local resources to promote and support individual health. Her current research explores the development of a health commons framework to address consequences of policy on local communities and cultivate empowerment through collective action of local residents to address deficits created by policy agendas counter to their goals.

  • Research Fellows

    Justin R. Garica, Ph.D., is Ruth Halls Assistant Professor of Gender Studies and Associate Director for Research and Education at The Kinsey Institute, Indiana University, Bloomington. Dr. Garcia holds a MS in biomedical anthropology and PhD in evolutionary biology from Binghamton University. His research interests focus on the evolutionary foundations of variation in monogamy, intimacy, and sexual behavior, with a particular emphasis on biocultural approaches to sex, gender, dating, and reproductive strategies. He has published on a variety of topics related to romantic and sexual relationships, and is co-author (with Peter Gray) of Evolution and Human Sexual Behavior (Harvard University Press) and co-editor of Evolution's Empress: Darwinian Perspectives on the Nature of Women (Oxford University Press). He has been a scientific consultant to Teva Women's Health, K-Y, and since 2010 has been Scientific Advisor to the online dating company Match.com.

    Molly Rosenberg, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington. She is an epidemiologist and population health researcher who studies how social, structural, and economic factors influence sexual health outcomes. Her work has largely focused on adolescent sexual health in rural South Africa, where the burden of the HIV epidemic continues to be felt most strongly, though her research has represented vulnerable populations of all ages in multiple low- and middle-income countries. Dr. Rosenberg's research is focused on identifying novel structural intervention targets to improve sexual health, with representative studies examining the relationship between alcohol outlets and herpes infections, the influence of school dropout on teen pregnancy, and the potential for anti-poverty programs like cash transfers and microfinance to influence HIV risk.

    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.

    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.

    Rex Stockton, Ed.D, is a Chancellor's Professor in the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. He received his Ed.D from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Dr. Stockton has more than a decade of background of working with HIV/AIDS training and research in Africa, primarily in Botswana. Dr. Stockton has published well over 100 articles and book chapters in his career. As a counseling psychologist he has provided training workshops and research in collaboration with colleagues in Botswana. Most recently, he and his research team have completed a country-wide study of HIV/AIDS patients' satisfaction with counseling. The study was reported at the 2015 American Psychological Association Convention and later in Gaborone, Botswana. This study complemented an earlier study of HIV/AIDS counselor perceptions of their training and issues related to their well-being. That study was published in the Journal of HIV/AIDS & Social Services. A prevention-related publication, Preventing the Spread of HIV/AIDS in Botswana, will be published in the Cambridge Handbook of International Prevention Science in 2015. He and his research team of ten graduate students and a colleague are going to focus next on alcoholism as it affects HIV/AIDS in Botswana.

  • Research Associates

    Greg Carter, MSN RN CNS, is currently a third year Ph.D. student of Health Behavior through the School of Public Health at Indiana University Bloomington. His research focus is the social construction of sex and sexual health among men who have sex with other men. His previous clinical focus includes both the post anesthesia care unit and critical care units at Indiana University Health. Greg is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Indiana University School of Nursing. Mr. Carter's current research interest include sexual risk taking among college aged males, the impact of stigma on sexually transmitted infection screening, and men who experience sexual violence at sexual debut. His member affiliations include the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists, the American Public Health Association, and the Indiana Rural Health Association.

    Paul Dinh, MPH is a doctoral student of epidemiology at IUSPHB and is working with Dr. Meyerson to evaluate syringe policy implementation with focus on the development of an HIV and Hepatitis C epidemiologic profile. Prior to this, he worked for the Michigan Department of Community Health as an epidemiologist in the Division of Genomics, Perinatal Health and Chronic Disease. Paul holds a Masters in Public Health from the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

    Tapati Dutta is a social scientist in community health and currently pursuing her doctoral research at the Department of Applied Health Science, School of Public Health, Indiana University, Bloomington, majoring in Health Behavior. Tapati has her academic training in Humanities from Indian Universities – Bachelor in Social Work from Visva-Bharati University; M.A in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Masters in Population Studies (M.P.S) from International Institute for Population Sciences. Tapati's professional profile, spanned across 15 years, has been with development partners and NGOs mostly in India, Kenya and South Africa. She specializes in using used community-based, evidence-informed and participatory action research strategies, striving for empowered prevention decision making and advocating for receptive policies addressing sexual & reproductive health rights and HIV prevention among the rural and vulnerable.

    Heather Francis, M.S.Ed., Ed. S. is a Ph.D. student in the department of Applied Health sciences studying Health Behavior with minors in human sexuality and biostatistics at Indiana University. She has previously worked as a mental health therapist and counseled various populations such as college students, couples and families. Her focus of research is understanding how culture impacts sexual health and satisfaction. Her current research is looking into Latter Day Saints (LDS) or Mormon faith and trying to better understand how the religion impacts married individual's marital and sexual satisfaction.

    Laura Haderxhanaj, MPH, MS, is a doctoral candidate of Health Behavior and an Associate Instructor in the Department of Applied Health Science at Indiana University School of Public Health – Bloomington. Her research focus is the impact of health reform on government-associated sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinics. Prior to pursuing her PhD at Indiana University, Ms. Haderxhanaj worked as an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Division of STD Prevention. Ms. Haderxhanaj is pursuing applied research in public health, health policy, and reduction of STD disparities.

    Megan Simmons, MPH, is a first year doctoral candidate 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.

    Rebecca Ryan, MPH, is a first year doctoral student studying Health Behaviors and is an Associate Instructor in the department of Applied Health Science at Indiana University. Her research focus is STI acquisition time frames especially among people diagnosed with a second or third STI diagnosis, HPV vaccination uptake and barriers for the vaccination especially in immigrant populations, and issues addressing teacher readiness and dissemination of sex education. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D. at Indiana University, Rebecca was a high school health teacher in Fremont, California for 10 years as well as an adjunct instructor at Ohlone College.

    Karen Vanterpool, MPH, is a Ph.D. student in Health Behavior, minoring in Human Sexuality at the School of Public Health at Indiana University Bloomington. Previously she worked as a Fellow for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and as Research Associate at the Rural South Public Health Training Center at the University of Florida where she worked on a needs assessment assessing rural residents' perceptions of HIV/AIDS service quality, access to care and health disparities. Karen's research interest includes the relationship that cultural identity and acculturation has with risk communication, risk perception and decision-making regarding sexual behaviors; and the role that risk perception plays among those at high risk for contracting HIV including those that are geographically isolated. Karen holds a Masters in Public Health from the University of Florida College of Public Health & Health Professions.

  • Research Assistants

    Brandon Grant was born on February 15th, 1994 in Southfield, Michigan. He attended public schools in Farmington Hills for elementary as well as middle school and high school, both schools relatively close to his residence. Brandon received his B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan. During his time at Michigan he was involved with various organizations such as Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and Pre-Public Health Association. Also, he was a research assistant at the Conrad Jobst Vascular Surgery Laboratories studying Apixiban, an anticoagulant, with swine models. Brandon also has been able to take advantage of International travel for a 3-week experiential learning (in Germany and Netherlands) on social justice Issues focused on: Juvenile Justice System, Human and/or Sex Trafficking, Art as a Mode of Community-building and Community revitalization. Currently, Brandon is pursuing his MPH degree with a concentration in Public Health Administration at Indiana University. Outside of his studies, he volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters and American Red Cross. Also, he is a research assistant for RCAP. Brandon is always looking for personal development and growth professionally striving for success.

    Retushi Baidya is an MPH student in the department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at Indiana University with concentration on Epidemiology. She graduated from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, 2013 with Bachelors of Science (B.S) in Public Health. With concentration in Gerontology. Retushi is working with Dr. Lawrence to conduct an institutional analysis in southern Indiana.

    Karly Beavers is a first year MPH student in Behavioral, Social and Community Health at Indiana University. She received her BA in Psychology with a minor in Community Health Education at California State University, Monterey Bay, and has conducted research at the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at IU and the Center for HIV Educational Studies and Training in New York. Her research projects have included topics of HIV/AIDS prevention among young men, associations between alcohol consumption and sexual risk behavior, unusual ways of achieving orgasm, and condom and contraceptive use. She aims to continue research in order to reduce stigma and shame related to sexual behaviors through sexual health promotion and comprehensive sexuality education.

    Eric Evans is a second year MPH student with a concentration in Public Health Administration. He received his bachelor's of science in Recreational Therapy from the IU School Of Public Health in May of 2014. Eric is working with Dr. Meyerson to evaluate syringe policy implementation in Indiana. He has also interned with the Office of Minority Health at the Indiana State Department of Health, and as a public policy intern with the Indiana Minority Health Coalition, where he was instrumental to the achievement of more publicly accessible sickle cell data. Currently, Eric is employed by The Indiana Minority Health Coalition as a Public Policy Specialist and travels the state supplying legislative updates to Minority Health Coalitions around the state.

    Kendra Morris is an MPH student in Epidemiology and biostatistics. She is working with Dr. Meyerson, David Shannon and Paul Dinh to develop an HIV and Hepatitis C profile for the syringe policy implementation study. Kendra received her Bachelor's Degree in 2014 from Indiana University, where I studied Human Biology and African American and African Diaspora Studies (AAADs). She also works with Heather Francis to study sexual health among Mormon adults.

    Audrey Nelson-Yucatonis is an MPH student concentrating in Professional Health Education. Audrey received her B.A in Communications at Indiana State University. Her professional health experience includes, being the Student Event Coordinator through Student Health Promotion at Indiana State University. She has interned with the United Way of the Wabash Valley, in Terre Haute and served as a facilitator for Sycamore Safe Zone. She is working with Dr. Lawrence to conduct an institutional analysis in southern Indiana.

    David Shannon is a first year Epidemiology MPH student in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Indiana University – Bloomington. Prior to entering the MPH program, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Biology concentrated in Human Health and Disease at Indiana University – Bloomington. He is working with Dr. Meyerson to evaluate the implementation of syringe exchange policy in Indiana, and to explore pharmacist attitudes about access to naloxone and syringes, knowledge and attitudes about PrEP, and HIV testing in pharmacy settings.

    Margaret Sullivan is a second year MPH student, studying Professional Health Education. She earned her Bachelors of Science degree in Rehabilitation Psychology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Margaret is currently assisting Dr. Yarber, developing an intervention to help women become more comfortable and confident with using condoms. Margaret has previously worked with children and young adults with type 1 diabetes. Her current focus is undergraduate health and wellness; adopting healthy lifestyles and practices now that will benefit them in the future.

    Katie Joy Svensson is an MPH student in epidemiology and biostatistics. She is working with Dr. Meyerson to study syringe exchange policy implementation and to conduct an institutional analysis of southern Indiana counties. Katie works as a registered nurse in various settings and is currently practicing in a southern Indiana hospital as relief charge nurse on an acute physical rehabilitation unit mainly serving stroke, spinal cord injury, orthopedic conditions, and other complex medical conditions. Katie received her ASN at State University of New York at Farmingdale, and her BSN at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. Katie's research interests involve infectious diseases with a focus on sexual health and the elderly.

RCAP is supported, in part, through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.