Rita Melendez, PhD

Rita M

Research Faculty, La FamiliaThe Online Health Records ProjectProyecto Accesso and Transgender Risk and HIVrmelende@sfsu.edu

Dr. Melendez is a sociologist who has been working in HIV prevention and treatment since receiving her Ph.D. from Yale University in 2001. She received a National Research Service Award Research Training Fellowship for Behavioral Sciences Research in HIV and completed a Post-Doctoral research fellowship in Sexuality and HIV at Columbia University’s HIV Center for Behavioral and Clinical studies under the mentorship of Dr. Anke Ehrhardt. There, she received a Master’s Degree in Biostatistics from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She specializes in combining her qualitative sociological training and her quantitative skills and focuses on HIV issues relating to the gender and culture of racial and ethnic minorities in the US. As part of her training, she partook in Columbia University, School of Social Work’s HISTP (HIV Intervention Science Training Program; R25MH080665, PI: Nabila El-Bassel) where she received extensive training on conducting research with people of color as well as the challenges and skills that minority researchers face in conducting HIV research. As part of SFSU since 2004, Dr. Melendez has taught numerous undergraduate and graduate courses in the Sexuality Studies Department. Her teaching evaluations indicate the students appreciate her knowledge and focus on issues relating to race and ethnicity. Dr. Melendez’s research focusses on the Latina/o community, specifically heterosexual women and MSM. She is currently the PI of a qualitative study that collected data from 127 recent Latino immigrants who are HIV-positive (funded through the California HIV Research Project, CHRP). The study interviewed participants at two time points to inquire about health, access to care, barriers and facilitators to care including relationships, family, sexual orientation and identity. Her work links quantitative and qualitative methods and links HIV care with broader contextual issues relating to sexuality.


Melendez, R.M. and Pinto, R.M. (in press). ‘It’s really a hard life:’ Safety, gender and HIV risk among male-to-female transgender persons. Culture, Health and Sexuality.

Sandfort, T.M., Melendez, R.M., Díaz, R. (in press). Gender noncomformity, Homophobia, and Mental Health in Latino Gay Men. Journal of Sex Research.

Melendez, R.M. (in press). Transgender Persons, Discrimination and HIV. In Howe, C. and Herdt, G. (eds.) 21st Century Sexualities: Contemporary Issues in Health, Education and Rights. New York: Routeledge Press.

Melendez, R.M., Bonem, L.A. and Sembler, R. (2006). On Research and Bodies: Issues in transgender HIV research. Sexual Research and Social Policy, 3, 4: 21-38.

Melendez, R.M., Exner, T.E., Ehrhardt, A.A., Dodge, B., Remien, R.H., Rotheram-Borus, M.J., Lightfoot, M., Hong, D. and the NIMH Healthy Living Project Team. (2006). Health and Health Care Among Male-to-Female Transgender Persons Who Are HIV Positive, American Journal of Public Health, 96, 6:1034-7.

Melendez, R. M. and Tolman D.L. (2006). Gender, Vulnerability and Young People. In Mane, P. and Aggleton, P. (eds.) Sex, Drugs and Young People. London: Taylor and Francis, 29-47.

Whittier, D.K. and Melendez, R.M. (2006). Sexual Scripting and self-process: Intersubjectivity among gay men. In Kimmel, M. (ed.) The sexual self: The construction of sexual scripts. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.

Dworkin, S.L, Exner,T.E., Melendez, R., Hoffman, S. & Ehrhardt, A.A. (2006). Revisiting “Success”: Post-Trial Qualitative Results From a Gender-Specific HIV Intervention for Women. AIDS & Behavior, 26:1-11.

Heintz, A.J. and Melendez, R.M. (2006). Intimate Partner Violence and HIV/STD Risk among LGBT. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 21, 2:193-208.

Whittier, D.K. and Melendez, R.M. (2004). Intersubjectivity in the Intrapsychic Sexual Scripting of Gay Men. Culture, Health and Sexuality, 6, 2:131-143.

Melendez, R.M., Hoffman,S., Exner, T., Leu,C.-S. and Ehrhardt, A.A.. (2003). Intimate Partner Violence and Safer Sex Negotiation: Effects of a Gender-Specific Intervention. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32: 499-511.

Hirky, A.E., Kirshenbaum, S.B., Melendez, R.M., Rollet, C., Perkins, S.L., and Smith, R.A. (2003). The Female Condom: Attitudes and Experiences of HIV-Positive Women. Women and Health, 37: 71-89.