Our History

Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., M.D.

The Medical Institute for Sexual Health (MI) was founded in 1992 by Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., M.D., a prominent obstetrician/gynecologist and infertility specialist. In the early 1990s he observed that many women needed infertility and cancer treatment for STIs they had acquired years earlier. While doing research for a women’s healthcare book, he also realized the extraordinary magnitude of the STI epidemic. He founded MI in response to these observations and findings. What began as a presentation at a local high school has evolved into a unique organization. Since 1992 the Medical Institute has been a leading voice providing medically accurate, research-based sexual health information to diverse audiences, ranging from healthcare professionals and educators to policymakers, parents and youth through conferences, trainings, brochures, videos and books.

In addition to continuing to maintain complete and accurate sexual health information and producing materials to disseminate that information, in the past decade, the Medical Institute has:

  • conducted “Paso a Paso – Building Healthy Families”, a demonstration project in the El Paso, TX area that targeted middle and high school students, parents, grandparents, and community members;
  • developed the “Building Family Connections”, parenting curriculum to enhance sexual health communication between parenting adults and adolescents;
  • written and published three books, Questions Kids Ask about Sex, Hooked; New science on how casual sex is affecting our children; and most recently, Girls Uncovered: new research on what America’s sexual culture does to young women; 
  • developed the STD Wizard (www.stdwizard.org), a web-based interface that allows people of all ages to assess their STI risk;
  • written and distributed two monographs, Sex, Condoms and STDs: What We Now Know, and Evidence that Demands Action: Comparing Risk Avoidance and Risk Reduction Strategies for HIV Prevention;
  • assessed the impact of sexual imagery in the media on adolescent behavior;
  • developed and distributed Guidelines for Sexual Health Education K-12;
  • developed and distributed sexual health curriculum guidelines for medical schools;
  • hosted five national meetings for sexual health educators; and
  • developed two Spanish-English language fotonovelas focused on teen pregnancy prevention.

Freda M. Bush, M.D.

In February 2012, Freda M. Bush, M.D., became the new President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Medical Institute. Dr. Bush is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and is a Clinical Instructor in the Dept of OBGYN and in the Dept of Family Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. She graduated from the University of Mississippi Medical School and completed a residency in OB/GYN at the University of Tennessee in Memphis, TN. Dr. Bush has spent 25 years in private practice as an OB/GYN in Jackson, MS. She began her career in women’s health graduating from Columbia University, NYC with a MS in Maternity Nursing and a Certificate in Nurse Midwifery (CNM). She has served as a Presidential appointee to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) and served on the CDC HIV/AIDS and STI Advisory Committee (CHAC). She has been a member of the MI Advisory Board and the Board of Directors. She is co-author of two books with Dr McIlhaney, HOOKED, and Girls Uncovered, on how the culture of casual sex is affecting our youth. Currently, she is serving as a Member of the Mississippi Task Force on Teen Pregnancy Prevention. She is a national speaker and trainer on teen sexuality and women’s health providing medically accurate information and guidelines for sexual risk avoidance.

Freda was past President of the Central Mississippi Medical Society and also served on the Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure. She is past President of the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States.