By Laurie Kops, STD/HIV Section Supervisor, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
It would be fair to say that many in Montana, including those in public and private health agencies, would be quite stunned to realize the significant number of transgender, gender-nonconforming, and gender-variant individuals living in this vast state, even though we are not able to accurately quantify this demographic. As populations that are under-recognized, underserved, stigmatized and at risk for HIV and STD infection, it is imperative that support, services and understanding be generously and vigorously offered.
The Montana HIV Planning Group (HPG) has been a champion in many areas. The group has been a progressive, integrated (HIV prevention, HIV treatment, STD prevention and Hepatitis prevention) HPG for years, and has provided thoughtful consideration during the myriad of changes in HIV prevention interventions and services. In addition, HPG members have been a voice in local communities against stigma and discrimination, and, most recently, agreed that it is vital to examine the health needs of the transgender, gender-nonconforming, and gender-variant populations. Continue reading