What Is HIV?

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks cells that help the body fight infection, making a person more vulnerable to other infections and diseases. It is spread by contact with certain bodily fluids of a person with HIV, most commonly during unprotected sex (sex without a condom or HIV medicine to prevent or treat HIV), or through sharing injection drug equipment.

If left untreated, HIV can lead to the disease AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).

The human body can’t get rid of HIV and no effective HIV cure exists to date. So, once you have HIV, you have it for life.

However, by taking HIV medicine (called antiretroviral therapy or ART), people with HIV can live long and healthy lives and prevent transmitting HIV to their sexual partners. In addition, there are effective methods to prevent getting HIV through sex or drug use, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

What Is AIDS?

AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection that occurs when the body’s immune system is badly damaged because of the virus.

In the U.S., most people with HIV do not develop AIDS because taking HIV medicine every day as prescribed stops the progression of the disease.

A person with HIV is considered to have progressed to AIDS when:

  • the number of their CD4 cells falls below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood (200 cells/mm3). (In someone with a healthy immune system, CD4 counts are between 500 and 1,600 cells/mm3.) OR
  • they develop one or more opportunistic infections regardless of their CD4 count.

Without HIV medicine, people with AIDS typically survive about 3 years. Once someone has a dangerous opportunistic illness, life expectancy without treatment falls to about 1 year. HIV medicine can still help people at this stage of HIV infection, and it can even be lifesaving. But people who start ART soon after they get HIV experience more benefits—that’s why HIV testing is so important.

How Do I Know If I Have HIV?

The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested. Testing is relatively simple. You can ask your health care provider for an HIV test. Many medical clinics, substance abuse programs, community health centers, and hospitals offer them too. There are many testing centers across Montana that provide rapid HIV & STI testing for free.

Know Your Status?


Schedule a test online today! Book online with Gay Health Task Force for a confidential and free HIV test.

What Are the Symptoms of HIV?

There are several symptoms of HIV. Not everyone will have the same symptoms. It depends on the person and what stage of the disease they are in.

Below are the three stages of HIV and some of the symptoms people may experience.

Stage 1: Acute HIV Infection

Within 2 to 4 weeks after infection with HIV, about two-thirds of people will have a flu-like illness. This is the body’s natural response to HIV infection.

Flu-like symptoms can include:

    • Fever
    • Chills
    • Rash
    • Night sweats
    • Muscle aches
    • Sore throat
    • Fatigue
    • Swollen lymph nodes
    • Mouth ulcers

These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. But some people do not have any symptoms at all during this early stage of HIV.

Don’t assume you have HIV just because you have any of these symptoms—they can be similar to those caused by other illnesses. But if you think you may have been exposed to HIV, get an HIV test.

Here’s what to do:

    • Find an HIV testing site near you—You can get an HIV test at your primary care provider’s office, your local health department, a health clinic, or many other places.
    • Request an HIV test for recent infection—Most HIV tests detect antibodies (proteins your body makes as a reaction to HIV), not HIV itself. But it can take a few weeks after you’re infected for your body to produce them. There are other types of tests that can detect HIV infection sooner. Tell your doctor or clinic if you think you were recently exposed to HIV, and ask if their tests can detect early infection.
    • Know your status—After you get tested, be sure to learn your test results. If you’re HIV-positive, see a doctor as soon as possible so you can start treatment with HIV medicine. And be aware: when you are in the early stage of infection, you are at very high risk of transmitting HIV to others. It is important to take steps to reduce your risk of transmission. If you are HIV-negative, there are prevention tools like pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) that can help you stay negative.

Montana Ryan White HIV Care Program

The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) provides a comprehensive system of care to ensure low-income people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) receive optimal care and treatment. Ryan White Part B funding is used to support medical services, including medications, and support services. For more information, check out Montana's DPHHS Ryan White HIV Care Program. 

What is PrEP/PEP?


PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a daily pill to help keep you HIV-negative. When taken as prescribed, PrEP is highly effective. PrEP is safe and generally well tolerated. Most insurance plans (public and private) cover PrEP.


PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, is a combination of medications that an HIV-negative person takes for 28-30 days AFTER a possible exposure to HIV. PEP is most effective the sooner it’s started, and must be started within 72 hours of the exposure.


How Do I Find a PrEP Provider in Montana?

Talk to your primary care provider first, because they have access to your full medical history. If you prefer to find someone else, a list of providers knowledgeable about PrEP may be found GetTested.MT.gov on the map under the PrEP tab. Several providers participate in Montana’s PrEP Assistance Program. and are listed in the table in the following section.


Any physician, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant can prescribe the medication used for PrEP, but staying on the medication requires more than just getting a prescription. Using PrEP requires you to first get tested for HIV to verify that you’re negative for the virus before starting PrEP. It also requires regular testing for HIV after you begin PrEP to check that you remain negative for HIV while taking the medication. And you will need other tests periodically to make sure you are not having any side effects. It is also best to continue to test for any other STIs, like syphilis and gonorrhea, just as you would normally, in continued support of your sexual health. The providers in the table below participate in the Montana PrEP Assistance Program. This program helps providers offer PrEP services to un- and under-insured individuals. This program is open to all clinics with licensed prescribers within the State of Montana.


Providers Affiliated with the Montana State PrEP Assistance Program

Billings Planned Parenthood - West
1844 Broadwater #4
Billings, MT 59102
(406) 656-9980

Planned Parenthood - Heights 
100 W Wicks Lane
Billings, MT 59105
(406) 869-5040

BozemanBridger Care 
1288 N 14th Ave
Bozeman, MT 59715
(406) 587-0681

ButteButte-Silver Bow Family Planning 
25 W Front
Butte, MT 59701

Great FallsPlanned Parenthood - Great Falls 
211 9th Street South
Great Falls, MT 59405
(406) 454-3431


Bullhook Community Health Center
521 4th Street
Havre, MT 59501
(406) 395-4305


Planned Parenthood - Helena
1500 Cannon
Helena, MT 59601
(406) 443-7676


Partnership Health Center
401 Railroad St. W
Missoula, MT 59802
Email: Andy Hardison 
Phone: 406-258-4418

Andy serves as Partnership Health Center's HIV prevention specialist and PrEP/PEP navigation specialist.

Planned Parenthood - Missoula
219 East Main Street
Missoula, MT 59802
(406) 728-5490


Providence St Joseph Medical Center
Six 13th Avenue East
Polson, MT 59860


For more information on PrEP, including public and private clinics that offer the service, click on any of the links below. The Department of Public Health and Human Services cannot attest to the accuracy of a non-state website.

GetTested.MT.gov - Click on the PrEP tab
Get PrEP Montana - from the Montana Gay Health Task Force
National PrEP Locator - from Emory University with CDC support


What is U=U?

U=U means that people with HIV who achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load—the amount of HIV in the blood—by taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) daily as prescribed cannot sexually transmit the virus to others.

What are STDs?

The term sexually transmitted disease (STD) is used to refer to a condition passed from one person to another through sexual contact. A person can contract an STD by having unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the STD.

An STD may also be called a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or venereal disease (VD).

That doesn’t mean sex is the only way STDs are transmitted. Depending on the specific STD, infections may also be transmitted through sharing needles and breastfeeding.


Some STDs are Caused by Bacteria:

Bacterial infections can usually be cured with antibiotic pills or shots.


Some STDs are Caused by Viruses:

    • Herpes
    • HPV (Human Papillomavirus which can cause Genital or Anal Warts)
    • Hepatitis A, B, C
    • HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus—the virus that causes AIDS)

Viruses usually can’t be cured. Your doctor might give you some medicine or other treatment that keeps you from getting sick or helps control your symptoms.

Public lice (“crabs”) are parasitic insects found in the genital area of humans. Scabies is an infestation of the skin with the microscopic mite. Several lotions are available to treat either pubic lice or scabies.


How Do I Know If I Have an STD?

Many STDs don’t have symptoms you can see or feel. Learn what is normal for your body. Some things that may not be normal are:

  • Pain when you have sex or urinate
  • Bumps or sores around your genitals, anus, or mouth
  • Discharge from your genitals or anus
  • Rash on your body
  • Mucous in your feces

The only way to know for sure if you have an STD is to have regular testing for STDs

What Are The Tests Like?

A doctor or nurse may take a sample of your blood and may swab your genitals, anus, throat/mouth, a rash/sore and they may ask you for a sample of urine.

HIV, Syphilis & Hepatitis rapid tests can be performed by many rapid testing clinics and centers across Montana and can be done either through an oral swab or a quick blood sample depending on the test being performed.

HIV/AIDS Testing Locations in Montana

Below is a list of most all testing sites within Montana. Some of the sites do both the Conventional and Rapid Test. Those in bold offer the Rapid HIV Test and potentially the Conventional Test. Please contact the testing site to find out when appointments are available and confirm what type of testing they do.


Planned Parenthood of MT – Billings
100 W Wick Lane
Billings, MT 59105-3813
Contact: Becky
Phone: 406-869-5040

Planned Parenthood of MT – West
1844 Broadwater #4
Billings, MT 59101
Phone: 406-656-9980

RiverStone Health
123 South 27th Street
Billings, MT 59101
Email: Debbie Hedrick
Phone: 406-247-3377

People’s AIDS Network 
2019 Minnesota Ave
Billings, MT 59101
Email: D J Svetich
Phone: 406-245-4293


Rocky Boy Tribal Health
Rural Route 1 Box 664
Box Elder, MT 59521
Phone: 406-395-4486


1288 N 14th Ave #201
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: 406-587-0681

AIDS Outreach
601 Nikles Drive, Suite 2C
Bozeman, MT 59715
Email: info@AIDSOutreachMT.org
Phone: (406) 451-5718


Montana Gay Health Task Force
(Offsite Location)
Email: Steven Barrios
Phone: 406-470-1625


Butte Silver Bow Community Health
25 W. Front St.
ButteMT 59701
Email: Katie Smith, Program Manager
Phone: (406) 497-5020

Family Services Center
25 West Front
Butte, MT 59701
Email: Tracy McArthur
Phone: 406-497-5080


Beaverhead Family Planning
90 Highway 91 South
Dillon, MT 59725
Email: Debbie Robinson
Phone: 406-683-3183


Valley County AIDS Task Force
501 Court House Square
Box 11
Glasgow, MT 59230
Email: Vickie Bell
Phone: 406-228-8221 ext. 61


Dawson County Health Dept.
207 West Bell
Glendive, MT 59330
Email: Timber Dempewolf
Email: Andeen Raymond
Phone: 406-377-5213
Fax: 406-377-2022


Cascade City-County Health Dept.
115 4th St S
Great Falls, MT 59401
Email: Trisha Gardner
Phone: 406-454-6950
Fax: 406-454-6959

Planned Parenthood of MT
211 9th Street South
Great Falls, MT 59401
Email: Brittney Morris
Phone: 406-454-3431

Great Falls AIDS Network
PO Box 613
Great Falls, MT 59401
Email: Al Thain
Phone: 406-727-3064


Ravalli County Health Department
205 Bedford, Suite L
Hamilton, MT 59840
Email: Judy Griffin
Phone: 406-375-6259


Fort Belknap Tribal Health
Rural Route 1 PO Box 66
Harlem, MT 59501
Email: Katrese Hammond
Phone: 406-353-3156


Wheatland Co. AIDS Task Force
Wheatland Community Hospital
53 3rd St. NW
Harlowtown, MT 59036
Phone: 406-632-4351


Hill County Health Dept.
321 4th Avenue
Havre, MT 59501
Email: Barbara Miller
Phone: 406-265-5481 ext. 266
Fax: 406-265-5487


Leo Pocha Memorial Clinic
436 North Jackson
Helena, MT 59601
Email: Bonnie Stevens
Phone: 406-449-5796
Fax: 406-449-5371

Planned Parenthood of MT
1500 Cannon Street
Helena, MT 59601
Email: Kathy Wehri
Phone: 406-443-7676

Outreach Worker for Lewis & Clark
Offsite Location
Email: Michael Hand
Phone: 406-461-1001


Flathead City/County Health Department
1035 1st Avenue West
Kalispell, MT 59901
Contact: Mandie Fleming, Health Promotion Specialist
Email: mfleming@flathead.mt.gov


Northern Cheyenne Board of Health
PO Box 67
Lame Deer, MT 59043
Email: Roberta Cady
Phone: 406-477-4510


Central Montana Family Planning
505 Main ST Suite 418
Lewistown, MT 59457-5703
Email: Sue Irvin
Phone: 406-535-8811
Phone: 1-800-648-8646
Fax: 406-538-8811


Lincoln County Community Health Center
421 Montana Ave
Libby, MT 59923
Email: Susan Whitefield
Phone: 406-293-6291


Custer County Health Department
2000 Clark Street
Miles City, MT 59301
Email: Wendy Richards
Phone: 406-874-3377


Schedule an Rapid HIV Test Online Today >>

Gay Health Task Force
127 North Higgins, Suite 201
Missoula, MT 59807
Email: David Herrera
Phone: 406-829-8075
Phone [toll free]: 888-713-4683

Open Aid Alliance
1500 W Broadway St A
Missoula, MT 59808
Email: Christa Weathers
Phone: 406-543-4770

Missoula City-County Health Dept.
301 West Alder
Missoula, MT 59802
Email: Brigid O’Connor
Phone: 406-258-3896

All Nations Health Center
PO Box 16927
Missoula, MT 59808
Phone: 406-821-9515
Phone: 406-829-9519

Partnership Health Center
401 Railroad St. W
Missoula, MT 59802
Email: Andy Hardison 
Phone: 406-258-4418

Andy serves as Partnership Health Center's HIV prevention specialist and PrEP/PEP navigation specialist.

Curry Health Center
634 Eddy Ave
Missoula, MT 59801
Email: Linda Green
Phone: 406-243-2809

Planned Parenthood of MT
219 East Main Street
Missoula, MT 59802
Email: Angel Nordquist
Phone: 406-728-5561


Salish Kootenai College - Center for Prevention & Wellness
52000 Highway 93
Vanderburg Building, Rm 110
Pablo, MT 59855
Email: Kellie Caldbeck
Phone: 406-275-4913


Lake County Health Dept.
802 Main Street, Suite A
Polson, MT 59860
Email: Emily Colomeda
Phone: 406-883-7314
Fax: 406-883-7290


Ravalli County Public Health Department
205 Bedford St, Ste L
Hamilton, MT 59840
Email: RCPublicHealth@rc.mt.gov
Phone: 406-375-6672


Roosevelt County Health Department
124 Custer St.
Wolf Point, Mt 59201
Phone: 406-653-6223
Fax: 406-653-6210