World Aids Day is December 1 and Montana is celebrating a few of its heroes in the fight against sexually transmitted diseases. Two medical professionals received awards on the capital rotunda this week: Dr. Raymond Geyer of the Great Falls Clinic and Missoula’s Win Lewis, PA-C, of Partnership Health.

According to Montana DPHHS HIV/STD Prevention Coordinator Judy Nielson, the HIV infection rate for Montana has been stable, but that isn’t the case for one particular STD.

"We get an average of approximately 20 to 24 new HIV infections identified per year, but the STD front is not quite as rosy," Nielson said. "Gonorrhea is troubling us with double the number of cases in each of the last three years... we are calling it an epidemic."

720 Montanans have been infected with Gonorrhea this year. That is a startling increase considering that just three years ago, the infection rate was less than 200 people per year. One cause for concern in the past few years has been the rapid rate of Gonorrhea increase in areas around Montana's reservations.