Monica S. Ruiz

Monica Ruiz

Monica S. Ruiz

M.P.H., Ph.D.

Associate Professor

School: Milken Institute School of Public Health

Department: Prevention and Community Health


Office Phone: 202-994-3676
950 New Hampshire Avenue, Office: 307 - Floor 3 Washington DC 20052

Monica S. Ruiz, PhD, MPH, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Prevention and Community Health and The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.

Dr. Ruiz's career has focused predominantly on research pertaining to HIV prevention. She has served as the sole behavioral scientist and the Acting Chief of the Prevention Sciences Branch, Division of AIDS, at the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In this capacity, she worked primarily with the HIV Prevention Trials Network, a worldwide collaborative clinical trials network that develops and tests the safety and efficacy of primarily non-vaccine interventions designed to prevent HIV transmission. She has also worked in the public policy arena, both as a study director with the Institute of Medicine and as the Acting Director for Public Policy at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research.

Her current research focuses on examining the epidemic impact of policy change on HIV infection and linkage to care outcomes – including utilization of syringe exchange, addiction treatment, and other harm reduction services -- in the District of Columbia. She is the Principal Investigator of DC POINTE: Policy Impact on the Epidemic, a federally funded research study examining the epidemic impact of policy change on HIV infection and linkage to care outcomes – including utilization of syringe exchange, addiction treatment, and other harm reduction services -- in the District of Columbia (R01DA031649; PI: MS Ruiz). She is currently conducting research in partnership with community harm reduction providers to examine the impact of gentrification on drug users’ access to health care and syringe access services. Her current research interests include examining the social and structural factors that impede HIV prevention efforts in vulnerable and disenfranchised populations.

Dr. Ruiz was a speaker at TEDx Foggy Bottom on April 22, 2017. Her talk, “Rage, research, and Harm reduction”, can be viewed online:

Behavioral Health


Global Health


Health Disparities

Health Policy

Mental Health


Reproductive Health

Underserved Populations

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Loyola Marymount University, 1988
Doctor of Philosophy in Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California School of Medicine, 1995
Master of Public Health in Epidemiology, University of California, Berkeley, 1996 

PubH 1102: History of Public Health
PubH 6553 - Adolescent Health
PubH 6559 - Approaches to HIV Prevention: An Interdisciplinary Overview, Department of Prevention and Community Health

Dr. Ruiz has served on the Ad Hoc Racial and Ethnic Minority Committee for the Office of AIDS Research at the National Institutes of Health, as well as the Scientific Advisory Board for the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at the University of California, San Francisco. She was also a member of the planning committee for a consultation on Research and the National AIDS Strategy, which aimed to engage researchers, community advocates, and federal government officials in a discussion about how federally-sponsored research can best support the three goals of the National AIDS Strategy (i.e. lower incidence, increased care access, reduced health disparities) identified by President Barack Obama. She has also been a member of the the PEPFAR Technical Working Group on HIV Prevention among the General Population and Youth, as well as the Federal Working Group providing technical review of ABCY (Abstinence, Be Faithful, Condoms for Youth) components of PEPFAR Country Strategies and
Country Operational Plans.

Dr. Ruiz presently serves on the Syringe Access Working Group in Washington, DC. She is an active member of Team RWB, a nationwide nonprofit organization whose mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity. She is also a volunteer boarder for Dogs on Deployment, a nationwide nonprofit whose volunteers take care of the pets of military service members during deployments so that these pets are not surrendered to shelters.

Dr. Ruiz has published extensively on a variety of HIV prevention issues, including self-disclosure of HIV infection to sexual partners, HIV prevention in correctional systems, and microbicide acceptability. Current interests include non-vaccine HIV prevention strategies (such as topical microbicides and pre-exposure prophylaxis), HIV in correctional systems, and syringe exchange policy. 

Dr. Ruiz is the Principal Investigator of DC POINTE: Policy Impact on the Epidemic. This project is supported through a R01 research grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The purpose of this research is to conduct an impact evaluation to determine whether or not the change in syringe exchange funding policy in Washington, DC, is associated with increased access to syringe exchange services, increased linkage to other relevant HIV prevention services for IDU, and new cases of HIV infection associated with IDU reported in the District of Columbia. A secondary goal of this research is to conduct a comparative policy analysis of the Washington, DC, experience and the experience of two other cities where policy changes were necessary for municipal support of syringe exchange programs to determine how these changes in policy affected HIV prevention efforts targeting injection drug using populations. 

Ruiz MS, Heimer R, Levina O, Badosova NV, Rassokhin V, Belyakov A, Belyakov NA. HIV-care access among people with incarceration experience in St. Petersburg, Russia. In press, European Journal of Public Health

Allen ST, Ruiz MS, Jones J, Turner M. Legal Space for Syringe Exchange Programs in Hot Spots of IDU-related Crime in Washington, DC.  Harm Reduction Journal. 2016; 13:16. DOI 10.1186/s12954-016-0104-3

Allen ST, Ruiz MS, Jones J. Quantifying Syringe Exchange Program Operational Space in the District of Columbia. AIDS and Behavior. Published online 19 April 2016. DOI 10.1007/s10461-016-1405-y

Allen ST, Ruiz MS, O’Rourke A. Differences in the Prevalence of High-Risk Behaviors between Heterosexual and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Questioning (GLBQ) Female Adolescents in the Juvenile Justice System. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services. 2016; 28(2): 171-175. DOI: 10.1080/10538720.2016.1158137

Allen ST, Ruiz MS, Roess A, Jones J. Assessing seasonality of travel distance to harm reduction service providers among persons who inject drugs. Harm Reduction Journal. 2015;12(45). DOI: 10.1186/s12954-015-0081-y

Allen ST, Ruiz MS, Jones J. Assessing Syringe Exchange Program Access among Persons who Inject Drugs (PWID) in the District of Columbia. J Urban Health. 2015; 93(1): 131-140. DOI: 10.1007/s11524-015-0018-5

Heimer R, Levina OS, Osipenko V, Ruiz MS, Sergeyev B, Sirotkin AV, Vyshemirskaya I. Impact of Incarceration Experiences on Reported HIV, Hepatitis, and Tuberculosis Status and Associated Risk Behaviours. European Journal of Public Health. 2015 Sep 16. pii: ckv157.  DOI:

Ruiz MS, O’Rourke A, Allen ST. Impact evaluation of a policy intervention for HIV prevention in Washington, DC. AIDS and Behavior. 2015 Sep 04. DOI: 10.1007/s10461-015-1143-6.

Ruiz MS, O’Rourke A, Allen ST.  Using capture-recapture methods to estimate the population of injection drug users in Washington, DC. AIDS and Behavior. 2015 May 20.  DOI:10.1007/s10461-015-1085-z.

O’Rourke A, Ruiz MS, Allen ST. Client-identified needs and provider-administered services at a harm reduction community based organization in Washington, DC. Harm Reduction Journal. 2015; 12: 17. DOI:10.1186/s12954-015-0051-4

Allen ST, Ruiz MS, O’Rourke A. How far will they go?: Assessing the travel distance of current and former drug users to access harm reduction services. Harm Reduction Journal. 2015; 12(3). DOI: 10.1186/s12954-015-0043-4

Allen ST, Ruiz MS, O’Rourke A.  The evidence does not speak for itself: The role of research evidence in shaping policy change for the implementation of publicly funded syringe exchange programs in three US cities. International Journal of Drug Policy. 2015. DOI:

Rich JD, DiClemente RJ, Levy J, Lyda K, Ruiz MS, Rosen DL, Dumont D. Correctional Facilities as Partners in Reducing HIV Disparities.  Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.  2013; 63 (Supplement 1): S49-53. DOI: 10.1097/QAI.0b013e318292fe4c.

Rich JD, Wohl DA, Beckwith CG, et al.  HIV-related research in correctional populations: now is the time.  Curr HIV/AIDS Rep. 2011; Dec 8(4): 288-296. DOI: 10.1007/s11904-011-0095-3.

DiClemente RJ, Ruiz MS, McDermott Sales J. Barriers to Adolescents’ Participation in HIV Biomedical Prevention Research. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. 2010; 54 (Supplement 1): S12-S17.

Kapogiannis BG, Ruiz MS, Handelsman E, Lee S. Introduction:  Paving the Way for Biomedical HIV Prevention Interventions in Youth. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. 2010; 54 (Supplement 1): S1-S4.

Morrow KM & Ruiz MS.  Assessing Microbicide Acceptability: A Comprehensive and Integrated Approach. AIDS & Behavior. 2008; 12: 272-283.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (report by: McKnight CA, Des Jarlais DC, Perlis, T, Eigo K, Krim M, Ruiz MS, Purchase D, Solberg A, Mastro TD).  Syringe Exchange Programs -- United States, 2005.  Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.  2007; 56(44): 1164-1167.

Bryan A, Ruiz MS, Robbins R, O’Neill D.  Effectiveness of an HIV prevention intervention in prison among African-Americans, Hispanics and Caucasians.  Health Education & Behavior. 2006; 33(2): 154-177.

Bryan A, Ruiz MS, O’Neill D.  HIV-related behaviors among prison inmates: A Theory of Planned Behavior analysis.  Journal of Applied Social Psychology. 2003; 33: 2565-2586.

Mason HRC, Marks G, Simoni JM, Ruiz MS, & Richardson JL.  Seeking support: Disclosure among African-American and Anglo men. AIDS and Behavior. 1997; 1(3) 155-162.

Catania JA, Moskowitz JT, Ruiz MS, and Cleland J.  A review of national AIDS-related behavioral surveys.  AIDS. 1996; 10 (suppl. A): S183-S190.

Simoni JM, Mason HRC, Marks G, Ruiz MS, and Richardson JL.  Sexual behaviors and counseling experiences of women with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles.  Women and Health. 1995; 23:  17-26.

Mason HRC, Marks G, Simoni JM, Ruiz MS, and Richardson JL.  Culturally sanctioned secrets?  Latino men's nondisclosure of HIV infection to family, friends, and lovers.  Health Psychology. 1995; 14: 6-12.

Simoni JM, Mason HRC, Marks G, Ruiz MS, Richardson JL, and Reed D.  Women's self-disclosure of HIV infection:  Rates, reasons, and reactions.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 1995; 63: 474-478.

Marks G, Ruiz MS, Richardson JL, Reed D, Mason HRC, Sotelo M, and Turner PA.  Anal intercourse and disclosure of HIV infection among seropositive gay and bisexual men.  Journal of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. 1994; 7: 866-869.

Marks G, Bundek NI, Richardson JL, Ruiz MS, Maldonado N, and Mason HRC.  Self-disclosure of diagnosis among individuals with HIV, Health Psychology. 1992; 11: 300-306.

Marks G, Richardson JL, Ruiz MS, and Maldonado N.  HIV-infected men's practices in notifying past sexual partners of infection risk.  Public Health Reports. 1992; 107: 100-105.

Ruiz MS, Marks G, and Richardson JL.  Language acculturation and screening practices of elderly Hispanic women: the role of exposure to health-related information from the media.  Journal of Aging and Health. 1992; 4: 268-281.