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William L. Yarber
Rural Center for Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention

Tracy James
University Communications

Last modified: Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Media advisory: Rural AIDS and HIV expert comments on new federal awareness campaign

Editors: Federal health officials on Tuesday (April 7) announced plans to launch a $45 million, five-year media effort to raise public awareness of the nation's HIV/AIDS epidemic -- the first such effort in two decades. William L. Yarber, senior director of the federally funded Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention at Indiana University Bloomington, is available to comment on developments. He can be reached at 812-855-7974 and

April 8, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A recent study revealed that the public's concern about the HIV/AIDS problem in the United States has lessened: In 1995, 44 percent of people surveyed considered HIV/AIDS the most urgent health problem, but only 5 percent of study participants reported feeling this way today, said William L. Yarber, senior director of the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention at Indiana University.

William Yarber

William Yarber

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"This lack of concern is most prominent in rural areas, where denial is pervasive," Yarber said. "Even though rural areas account for only 8 percent of the HIV/AIDS cases, rural areas face unique challenges because of stigma, denial, lack of adequate medical services and isolation."

This new, major educational effort to increase the public awareness of HIV/AIDS is needed because the number of new HIV infections in higher than projected, Yarber said, adding that RCAP welcomes the renewed focus, which he expects to help the center in its goal of reducing HIV/STD prevalence in rural communities.

On April 16-18 successful efforts to address HIV/AIDS and STDs in rural communities from Maine to Oklahoma, and Florida to Alaska, will be the focus of RCAP's sixth national conference, which will take place at IU Bloomington.

Yarber can be reached at 812-855-7974 and For more information about RCAP, visit Yarber is a professor in the Department of Applied Health Science in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. He also is a senior research fellow at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction.