May 6, 2013
It may not look like it, given how huge this website is, but TheBody.com is run by a small, close-knit team: just five, full-time employees, plus a handful of part-time folks. We thought it might be cool to give you a glimpse of what it is we all actually do here, and what we've been working on lately to make our home on the Web a larger, more complete, more welcoming place for you to come and visit.
So, in what we hope will be the first of a series of regular updates, each of us on the team will talk a little bit about what's new in our neck of the woods. We'd like this to be the start of an ongoing conversation between the people who make TheBody.com happen (us) and the people who give it its heart and soul (you), so please post a comment with any questions or feedback you may have about our site; we'll do our best to respond within the comment section!
Becky Allen, Site Director: While I've been working at TheBody.com for more than five years now (wow!), starting in January, I changed my focus and took on a new role as site director. What I've really liked about this is getting to take a broader view of TheBody.com: what we do, how we do it, and what our strengths and weaknesses are.
Two things leapt out pretty quickly: 1) every year -- heck, every month -- more and more people are looking at the site on their cellphones; and 2) while the site has an enormous amount of information to share, it can be difficult to find what you're looking for.
At first glance, those problems might not seem related, but they were both on my mind as I helped develop TheBody.com's new app. Obviously, the app is designed to look good on your phone: Instead of a crowded home page and tiny button navigation, you can get a smooth, clean layout, while still receiving all the best stories from TheBody.com. And organizationally speaking, the app is even better: The left-hand menu breaks everything into categories for your easy perusal.
Of course, we're still working on those broader issues. Behind the scenes, we're talking about how to make things on TheBody.com easier to find and make the site an even more useful, friendly resource. But in the meantime, if you happen to have an iPhone or Android phone, we hope you'll give the app a try.
Mathew Rodriguez, Editorial Project Manager: We are amping up the amount of content we are preparing through individual "spotlight series" this year! These series will allow us to explore a topic in the HIV community in depth for a short period of time. Our first 2013 Spotlight Series -- HIV in the Classroom -- brought enlightening stories of teachers who are informing a generation of students (many of whom were born after the epidemic began) about the HIV epidemic, and our Treatment Cascade series explores the medical phenomenon known as the treatment cascade.
Olivia Ford, Executive Editor: To wrap our recent Spotlight Series on Pregnancy and HIV, we launched a slide show busting myths about HIV and the baby-making process. As a member of the HIV community and a staffer at TheBody.com, as well as a trained birth doula (Google it!), putting together this piece -- and working on the series -- satisfied my two major health-education passions.
Olivia Ford: We've had true milestones to celebrate here on the site. Blogger and longtime TheBody.com community member Teniecka Drake welcomed her fourth child and third daughter into the world on Jan. 29! She blogged throughout her pregnancy about what she was going through; check out her last few blogs and leave a comment of welcome for wee Matasha!
We also welcomed two new bloggers since 2013 began: Devarah "Dee" Borrego, an unswervingly committed advocate out of Boston who acquired HIV at 20, the year she began her gender transition; and Michelle J. Sherman, a nationally recognized HIV specialist pharmacist who has been practicing in California for more than 20 years. Stay tuned for more new voices on the site not far behind.
Myles Helfand, Editorial Director: TheBody.com has been around since 1995 -- an eternity in Internet years. How many of you know it has a younger sibling? We created TheBodyPRO.com in 2002 as a place where HIV care providers -- doctors, nurses, case managers, educators and all the other folks who work on the front lines of the fight against HIV -- could go for information and support that helps them stay informed and improve the level of care provided to people living with HIV.
TheBody.com is far larger than TheBodyPRO.com and serves a much wider audience, but I wanted to take a moment to give our professional-focused site its due as well (and ask you for your feedback). Over the past few months, we've taken some significant strides in ramping up TheBodyPRO.com's ability to provide top-notch info about HIV care that you can't find anywhere else on the Web. We reinvented our HIV JournalView series as an email alert service that will keep you appraised of important new research impacting HIV care, and our HIV Management Today series relaunched with an in-depth examination of two hugely important issues affecting people with HIV: mental health and cardiovascular disease. Meanwhile, our HIV Care Today blog continues to feature unique perspectives from a range of health care professionals on key issues affecting the way we fight the virus.
Conference coverage is also one of TheBodyPRO.com's signature gigs. Our research editor, Warren Tong, and I hopped down to Atlanta, Ga., in March for a major HIV research conference known in shorthand as CROI 2013. It was from there that Warren became one of the first to report on the apparently cured Mississippi baby.
If there's anything in particular you feel that TheBodyPRO.com is doing especially right -- or could be doing better -- for HIV care providers, I'm eager for the feedback!
Olivia Ford: Over the course of the past several months, TheBody.com put out a four-part series exploring different aspects of a new, online HIV telenovela, Sin Vergüenza (Without Shame), out of Los Angeles. Haven't seen it yet? Watch all four episodes of the series -- and read the four articles in which they're embedded -- and tell us what you think in the comments.
At the end of February, it was a true honor and pleasure to publish a piece by our former news editor, Kellee Terrell, who's in film school in Chicago, but still writes regularly about HIV. She took on a vexing topic for our final feature piece of Black History Month: "Is AIDS in Black America More About Behavior or Institutional Factors?"
Another phenomenal community member, Gina Brown, celebrated (yes, celebrated!) 19 years since her diagnosis on April 4. We had the privilege of posting her words looking back on the day she found out she was positive -- and from that guest post sprang the brand-new "Day One With HIV" series. Want to share your own "Day One With HIV" story about finding out your diagnosis? Go for it! Write out your story (1,000 words or fewer, please!) or film a YouTube video, and email it to me. We'll be posting stories from readers in the coming months.
In April, we answered many community members' appeals for us to provide a comprehensive look at menopause for women living with HIV. The result is "Hot Flashes and Healthful Living: Health Concerns for Women Growing Older With HIV/AIDS." Most of the questions I asked in my interview with Jeannine Bookhardt-Murray, M.D., of Harlem United Community AIDS Center came directly from women I've worked with through TheBody.com who are themselves living with HIV and experiencing menopause. Thanks so much to all who contributed questions and thoughts!
Mathew Rodriguez: TheBody.com is making social media a priority in 2013. Our inaugural Twitter chat was a success and provided a blueprint for future Twitter chats. It was moderated -- amazingly well -- by David Stupplebeen of the Banyan Tree Project, an HIV community organization that promotes storytelling and awareness in the Asian/ Pacific Islander community. We will be moderating one of its Twitter chats on May 9. Also, we will have our own Twitter chat around youth and HIV issues later in May.
Make sure to take a moment to like us on Facebook to get a steady stream of our hottest content to your Facebook newsfeed. Aside from the latest news, research and features, we have begun to make our Facebook content more visual, shareable and social. In these past months, TheBody.com rolled out its first two infographics -- one on HIV among African Americans, the other on the state of the HIV pandemic -- and you loved them! Look forward to more.
We will also explore developing a presence on Pinterest, Reddit and Tumblr. Between all of these social media platforms, TheBody.com can now add "social media maven" to its CV. Yay, we're mavens!
Myles Helfand: We're deeply committed to providing everyone who has been impacted by HIV -- whether they're positive, close to somebody who's positive, providing care for someone who's positive, concerned they may have been exposed to HIV, or simply wanting to learn more about the virus so they can stay negative or help their community -- with the resources they need to keep themselves and those around them healthy and fulfilled. If there's anything you need us to do better, be it on TheBody.com or TheBodyPRO.com, that would help you achieve those goals, please let us know by using our "Tell Us What You Think" page or leaving a comment at the end of this article. We're eager for your feedback!
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