Learning About and Living With HIV/AIDS
Since the world first became acquainted with AIDS more than 20 years ago, the research and literature available about the subject has grown in leaps and bounds. Just try typing “AIDS” into any search engine and you’ll be bombarded with thousands upon thousands of hits. By asking more specific questions about the subject, you can start using the Web to learn how to successfully live with the disease, talk to someone about HIV/AIDS, or get involved in activism organizations.
If you or a friend or family member has recently been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, you probably have several questions that need answers. Living with HIV/AIDS can be a life-altering event, but with the right knowledge to work with, it is possible to feel more comfortable with the new world you’re facing. If you simply haven’t heard much about HIV or AIDS and want to learn more, check out the Web sites recommended in this section for a good overview.
- Understanding the terminology associated with HIV/AIDS is essential to making your research easier. HIV is the acronym for “Human Immunodeficiency Virus.” HIV may eventually develop into AIDS, which stands for “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.”
- HIV testing can be completed in a variety of ways. Some Web sites offer the chance to find a testing center near you that conducts tests in the method you prefer.
- There are myriad drugs and treatments available for HIV. Pharmaceutical companies’ Web sites can be very helpful in understanding what certain drugs do to treat the effects of HIV and AIDS, and often provide a list of potentially harmful interactions you should know about. But remember, these sites are also interested in promoting their products, so be sure to talk to your doctor to find out what treatment is best for you.
- The major health-oriented Web sites have sections on HIV/AIDS. Visit our findingDulcinea Health Web Guide for our recommendations of such sites, and for help assessing the credibility of health sites.
- Because one of the most common ways HIV is spread is through sexual activity, many HIV prevention efforts focus on safer sex practices. Be aware that some content you encounter may be very explicit in this regard.
To learn about HIV/AIDS in general …
AEGIS (AIDS Education Global Information System)
is the largest free library about HIV/AIDS in existence today. Look through such topics as exposure issues, living with HIV, and resistance testing. If you’re interested in law matters, Supreme Court decisions and the text of some law journals are available. An “Ask the Doc” section allows you to post a question about HIV/AIDS and receive a response either to your e-mail address or on a general forum. Be sure to follow the directions provided on the “Ask the Doc” page. Without a subject in the subject line of your e-mail, it could be rejected by spam filters. Publications from every major HIV/AIDS group in the world can also be located here.
describes itself as a complete HIV/AIDS resource. Read about everything from HIV prevention and testing to HIV treatment, hotlines and organizations, and what to do if you have just been diagnosed with HIV. The Body publishes current research about HIV/AIDS, offers an “Ask the Experts” forum where you can post your questions about HIV or AIDS, and provides inspiring stories of people living with HIV/AIDS. If you choose to visit this site often, the “What’s New” tab is particularly useful in highlighting new content about HIV/AIDS from week to week. By clicking on the “Connect” tab, you can access bulletin boards where various users are discussing topics related to HIV/AIDS. Registration is required to post messages.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
also discusses HIV and AIDS in great detail, and has links to more specialized topics such as HIV/AIDS and African Americans, HIV/AIDS and women, HIV/AIDS and men, HIV/AIDS and pregnancy, and HIV/AIDS in prisons/correction facilities. Make sure to check the “HIV/AIDS A-Z Index” under the “Quick Links” section on the right side of the page. Here you’ll find a list of topics including blood safety, body piercing, and rumors about the spread of HIV.
does not have the wide variety of content available at thebody.com or aegis.org, but it does have a handy list of Frequently Asked Questions under the “Topics” tab that provides a quick reference to some of the questions you may have. Here you’ll also find Fact Sheets that offer more thorough coverage of topics such as nutrition, strengthening the immune system, and HIV medications.
To learn about the history of HIV/AIDS …
In Their Own Words
recounts experiences from researchers at the National Institutes of Health who first encountered AIDS. Read through early research articles, view images portraying the growth and spread of AIDS, and take a look at early efforts campaigning against the spread of AIDS. Unfortunately, the timeline section only traces the history of HIV/AIDS from 1981 through 1988, but this coverage does give a good picture of HIV/AIDS during those years.
To learn about HIV/AIDS prevention …
is an international AIDS charity that teaches its readers how to “avert” HIV and AIDS with articles discussing transmission of the virus. Think you know a lot about HIV/AIDS? Test your knowledge with one of the quizzes provided on the site. The PDF version of the quizzes offers answers to the questions once you are done taking a quiz, while the interactive online version does not. One great feature of this site is the “Stories & Views” section where you’ll find personal stories like “Women with HIV,” “Friends and family of positive people,” and “Positive teens’ stories.”
For HIV testing information …
National HIV Testing Resources
has a locator for finding an HIV testing center near you. Use the locator to find testing centers that meet a variety of criteria: free testing services, oral HIV antibody testing, rapid HIV antibody testing, anonymous services, or confidential services. The Web site explains the HIV testing process and has an added bonus of making its content available in Spanish.
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