Grants from Gilead and ViiV support education and outreach in 13 states to address Monkeypox care for LGBTQIA+ persons living in rural communities

Charleston, W. Va, Oct. 31, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- CHARLESTON, W. Va. (October 31, 2022) – The Community Education Group (CEG) received a $50,000 grant from Gilead Sciences and a $50,000 grant from ViiV Healthcare to meet the Monkeypox care needs of gay, bisexual, transgender, and non-binary individuals across 13 states in rural Appalachia. The funding allows CEG to increase the capacity of rural Appalachian community-based organizations to address this public health emergency. CEG will develop and distribute educational materials, offer several grants via CEG’s Appalachian Partnership Fund, and host stakeholder convenings to reduce cultural preconceptions, stigmas, and barriers to care impacted by worldviews rooted in heteronormativity. CEG plans to provide healthcare resources in the following states: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

 “The rapid-speed philanthropic investment from Gilead and ViiV allows CEG to immediately reach the most vulnerable people in rural Appalachia through community-based, rural-focused organizations,” said CEG Executive Director A. Toni Young. “With COVID, HIV, Hep-C and, now, Monkeypox, our LBTBQIA+ communities and their health providers in Appalachia need our support now more than ever.”

 Gilead Science and ViiV funding to CEG will be used for promoting access to healthcare for LGBTQIA+ people living in rural communities, including developing and distributing educational information, offering grants to rural healthcare and community groups, and hosting monthly virtual meetings and events. In addition, CEG will develop and provide culturally competent, inclusive, and framed resources concerning the sexual gender and identity of gay, bisexual, nonbinary, and transgender people seeking care from rural healthcare practitioners.  

 As part of the effort, CEG will create and distribute thousands of “Monkeypox digital resource guides” to more than 300 Appalachian health departments, along with rural healthcare associations and LGTBQIA+ organizations across thirteen states. The goal is to promote the best approaches to deliver inclusive care to gay, bisexual, transgender, and nonbinary individuals seeking advice and care about the Monkeypox virus. 

 Young added, “Local healthcare providers want to reach the LGBTQIA+ community but need some support. Many rural healthcare providers haven’t engaged very often with this community, so they appreciate guidance, tools, and resources that help their patients feel safe and free to access healthcare. So, CEG will offer town halls, online training, tool kits, and funding that could be used for education or even healthcare vouchers for vaccines.” CEG’s online toolkits and resources will be available to any healthcare provider working with the LGBTQIA+ community nationwide.

 Today, CEG also announced a call for grant applications beginning October 31, 2022. CEG will accept applications on an ongoing basis until funds are awarded. The first review of grant applications will begin on November 15, 2022. Organizations eligible for consideration under this funding must be based in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, or West Virginia

 Grant applications can be found on the CEG website: Alternatively, community-based organizations can apply by scheduling a virtual meeting with CEG staff.

 “In response to the national public health emergency, Community Education Group launched a new Appalachian Partnership Fund grant geared towards community groups who need financial help to continue their efforts in healthcare education around Monkeypox,” said Young. “Community leaders are the eyes, ears, and hearts in our communities, and some may need more support and education around the LGBTQIA+ health issues, specifically addressing Monkeypox.” 

 Young said access to healthcare is challenging for many in rural communities, especially for rural LGBTQIA+ individuals living in Appalachia. She says those challenges are exacerbated by cultural preconceptions and a lack of education and understanding of people who are LGBTQIA+.

 In a 2022 study published in the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, researchers and physicians practicing in the Appalachian regions of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia said LGBTQIA+ patients outside of urban centers are more likely to struggle to find medical professionals that are familiar with LGBTQ+ issues or identities, a potential detriment to the health of sexual and gender minorities. According to the study, rural patients are more likely to face stigma around their sexual orientation or gender identity. It stated that many rural physicians are likely to have a worldview rooted in “heteronormativity,” or a belief that heterosexuality is the normal or preferred sexual orientation. Health practitioners in rural parts of the U.S., including Appalachia, are often not equipped to address the spread of Monkeypox and other unique health challenges faced by people who identify as gay, bisexual, nonbinary, and transgender, and other members of the LGBTQIA+ community. 

 The White House declared Monkeypox a national public health emergency on August 4, 2022, and the World Health Organization declared it a global health emergency in late July 2022. 


 About The Community Education Group 

Community Education Group (CEG) works to eliminate disparities in health outcomes and improve public health in disadvantaged populations and under-served communities. CEG conducts research, trains community health workers, educates and tests people who are hard to reach or at risk, shares its expertise through national networks and local capacity-building efforts, and advocates for practical and effective health policies that lead to social change. @CEGInWV 

 Monkey Pox

Monkeypox is a virus much less contagious and less likely to cause severe illness or death than COVID-19. The spread of Monkeypox is also different from the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and is rarely fatal. Facts to know:

  • There is a vaccine for Monkeypox.
  • Monkeypox can be treated with available antiviral medicines.
  • While COVID-19 passes easily from person to person, Monkeypox does not spread as easily between people. Monkeypox transmission typically requires skin-to-skin contact, direct contact with body fluids, or prolonged, close face-to-face contact.



Community Education Group Executive Director A. Toni Young