Scott D. Rhodes, a professor at Wake Forest School of Medicine, is dedicated to improving the health of Latinx gay men and trans women in the U.S. South, where he says there is a lot of discrimination, transphobia, homophobia and anti-immigration sentiment.
Professor Rhodes' postdoctoral mentee, Jason Daniel-Ulloa, nominated Rhodes for NBC Out's #Pride30 list.
"Scott is the most dedicated and passionate champion for public health I have ever met or worked with. For over 2 decades Scott has been committed to developing and disseminating real authentic sustainable programs to prevent HIV in a variety of diverse populations," Daniel-Ulloa wrote in his nomination email. "[He] continues to mentor me 5 years after I left the lab. He is a tireless champion of the people he works with and cares for and above all is driven to make the world a better place."
NBC News spoke with Professor Rhodes for NBC Out's #Pride30 special about his work and his dedication to public health.
What inspired you to specialize in the public health sector and with the Latinx population?
"I speak Spanish, and I was a Peace Corps volunteer for 3 years in Guatemala, where I did work in the city and countryside around health issues. HIV stigma and discrimination are near and dear to my heart. There are not have enough people rolling up their sleeves partnering with communities, and I'm good at working shoulder-to-shoulder with community members, health departments and HIV-serving organizations to figure out what their needs and priorities are. I'm trying to make a difference that way. Latinx populations are very neglected and scared at the same time, trying to roll up our sleeves and work hand-in-hand so what we do is what people want."
What is the research project you are working on now?
"Chicas. It's a project funded by the CBC that strives to increase Latinx trans women's access to PReP. What women care most about is access to hormone therapy and medical care, but it's hard when you don't have health insurance. The project will help women get access to providers with a sliding scale so they can access safe hormone therapy instead of self-medication and other unsafe options."
What does "pride" mean to you?
"Being my authentic self and doing good things for others. Because I'm lucky, so it's important to give back and help others who haven't been so lucky."